Cam­bridge grad­u­ate was one of worst ever on­line pae­dophiles

De­praved sci­en­tist gets 32 years for 137 crimes on dark web

Daily Mail - - News - By Jemma Buck­ley

A CAM­BRIDGE grad­u­ate was jailed for 32 years yes­ter­day over his evil dou­ble life as one of Bri­tain’s worst on­line pae­dophiles.

Pri­vately- ed­u­cated Matthew Falder was a bril­liant geo­physi­cist from an af­flu­ent fam­ily, with a Mas­ter’s de­gree, a PhD and a promis­ing aca­demic ca­reer.

But he was also a ‘warped and sadis­tic’ voyeur who black­mailed at least 47 vic­tims into send­ing hu­mil­i­at­ing pic­tures of them­selves per­form­ing de­praved acts, be­fore shar­ing them on abuse fo­rums on the ‘dark web’.

The 29-year-old de­scended into the world of ‘hurt­core’ – where in­ter­net users take plea­sure in wit­ness­ing the phys­i­cal and men­tal tor­ture of oth­ers – and left many vic­tims sui­ci­dal.

De­spite even­tu­ally ad­mit­ting car­ry­ing out 137 crimes over ten years, he man­aged to keep his on­line ac­tiv­i­ties hid­den from his fam­ily, long-term girl­friend and friends.

He was snared af­ter Bri­tain’s big­gest ever pae­dophile man­hunt – a global ef­fort led by the Na­tional Crime Agency (NCA), in­volv­ing the FBI and spies from GCHQ. Last night, Falder was la­belled as ‘ab­so­lutely the worst child ex­ploita­tion and black­mail of­fender I have ever seen’ by one US Home­land Se­cu­rity in­ves­ti­ga­tor. As the pae­dophile was sen­tenced at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court yes­ter­day:

It emerged that four of Falder’s vic­tims had tried to kill them­selves;

The court heard he had tar­geted more than 200 peo­ple on­line;

Cam­bridge said it was con­sid­er­ing strip­ping him of his de­grees.

Sen­tenc­ing Falder yes­ter­day, Judge Philip Parker QC said the case was a ‘tale of ever-in­creas­ing de­prav­ity’ and branded Falder an ‘in­ter­net high­way­man’ with a ‘lust for want­ing to con­trol other peo­ple through fear’.

The court heard how, hid­ing be­hind user­names such as ‘Evil­mind’ and ‘666devil’, he dis­trib­uted im­ages of ba­bies be­ing tor­tured and en­cour­aged some­one to rape a two-year-old boy.

The judge said he had de­clined to look at a file of Falder’s ‘re­pul­sive’ child abuse im­ages com­piled by the pros­e­cu­tor, and com­mended the NCA of­fi­cers for re­view­ing the ‘ ex­tremely dis­tress­ing’ ma­te­rial. Falder also spied on women in the shower with se­cret cam­eras and preyed on vul­ner­a­ble young­sters by pos­ing as an anorexic teenager or a de­pressed artist to trick them into send­ing nude self­ies.

He then black­mailed them into hu­mil­i­at­ing acts in­clud­ing lick­ing toi­let seats, eat­ing dog food naked and scrawl­ing cryptic ref­er­ences to abuse fo­rums on their naked bod­ies in red lip­stick.

The judge said Falder was clearly an ‘ex­traor­di­nar­ily tal­ented’ aca­demic, but added: ‘No one who knew you above ground had any inkling of what you were do­ing be­low the sur­face.’

The geo­physics re­searcher was fi­nally ar­rested in June last year on the cam­pus of Birm­ing­ham Univer­sity, where he worked.

Footage of his ar­rest shows him look­ing wide- eyed be­fore he asked a po­lice of­fi­cer: ‘What is it I am sup­posed to have done?’ When they read out a list of crimes, he said it sounded ‘like the rap sheet from hell’.

By the time he was ar­rested, he had be­come a ‘VIP mem­ber’ of child abuse fo­rums and ac­crued thou­sands of sick im­ages which he would ‘trade’ with oth­ers who shared his twisted fix­a­tion on ‘hurt­core’ porn. The term refers to im­ages show­ing sex­ual abuse in­volv­ing se­vere pun­ish­ment, hu­mil­i­a­tion and pain. His pros­e­cu­tion is be­lieved to be the first suc­cess­ful one re­lat­ing to ‘hurt­core’ porn in the UK.

Falder shared the im­ages on the dark web, a part of the in­ter­net which can be ac­cessed only through spe­cial servers which hide a user’s lo­ca­tion and iden­ti­fy­ing IP ad­dress. On one dark­web fo­rum he was de­scribed as hav­ing the ‘mem­ber­ship rank level of “rapist”’.

His decade of of­fend­ing was de­scribed as ‘in­creas­ingly se­ri­ous and menacing’, with the judge adding: ‘Time and again peo­ple begged you to stop. Time and again you ramped up the pres­sure. You wanted to as­sume to­tal con­trol over these vic­tims. Your be­hav­iour was cun­ning, per­sis­tent, ma­nip­u­la­tive and cruel.

He said it was ‘as­tound­ing’ that a man of his ‘back­ground and in­tel­li­gence’ did not re­alise the pain he was caus­ing and stop.

The judge said Falder robbed his vic­tims of ‘their se­cu­rity and their dig­nity’ and left many feel­ing ‘shocked, be­trayed, un­set­tled and vi­o­lated.’

He said the dam­age for those vic­tims ‘will never end’ as their im­ages were now cir­cu­lat­ing on the com­put­ers of other pae­dophiles. The judge con­cluded that Falder was a dan­ger­ous of­fender and gave him a six-year ex­tended li­cence pe­riod.

To lure in vic­tims, the pae­dophile posed as a fe­male artist called ‘Liz’ on clas­si­fieds web­site Gumtree, where he ap­proached peo­ple ad­ver­tis­ing babysit­ting or dog- walk­ing ser­vices. He of­fered them as much as £4,000 for nude pic­tures, claim­ing it was part of his ‘ ther­apy’ to sketch peo­ple in char­coal.

But once his vic­tims sent him the im­ages, he threat­ened to pass them on to their par­ents and school friends un­less they posed in ever more de­praved and hu­mil­i­at­ing ways. One 15-year-old sent more than 200 pic­tures, fear­ing he would send them to her mother if she did not com­ply.

Falder also posed as a teenage girl on a fo­rum for suf­fer­ers of eat­ing disor­ders, where he tricked a vul­ner­a­ble 14-year-old, from east­ern Europe, into be­com­ing his ‘girl­friend’.

In an on­line ex­change with an­other abuser, he said of her: ‘I am think­ing of just be­tray­ing her as harshly as I can, to see how much I can men­tally f*** her up. I think there is even a bit of a chance of a sui­cide.’

Four of his vic­tims tried to kill them­selves, the judge said yes­ter­day, and oth­ers self-harmed.

One of those was a 15-year-old girl in fos­ter care, who was told her dis­abled brother would be taken away from her if she did not keep send­ing pic­tures of her­self. Falder de­manded she pose with a sign that said: ‘I look af­ter my dis­abled brother, and now I am be­ing forced to strip.’

The judge crit­i­cised Falder for ‘re­spond­ing cal­lously’ af­ter one

‘Ma­nip­u­la­tive and cruel’ ‘Ever-in­creas­ing de­prav­ity’

of his vic­tims – whom he was treat­ing like a slave – said he had con­tem­plated sui­cide.

The sci­en­tist went on to boast about be­ing the ‘orig­i­nal black­mailer’ while shar­ing his sick im­age col­lec­tion with thou­sands of pae­dophiles on dark-web fo­rums – one of which, called ‘Hurt 2 The Core’, was known as ‘the worst web­site in the world’.

The court heard he ‘reg­u­larly boasted and taunted his vic­tims’ about be­ing anony­mous on­line and un­de­tectable to law en­force­ment. He used a se­ries of en­crypted email ad­dresses and so­phis­ti­cated ‘TOR’ soft­ware, which anonymises in­ter­net traf­fic and al­lows users to ac­cess the hid­den dark web. He also used email ac­counts based in Rus­sia know­ing it would be much harder for Bri­tish au­thor­i­ties to in­ves­ti­gate him.

Falder’s sen­tence fol­lows a four-year world­wide in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volv­ing se­cu­rity ser­vices from the US, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Is­rael and Europe.

Su­per­vis­ing se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tions of­fi­cer Scott Crabb, of Home­land Se­cu­rity in the US, de­scribed the pae­dophile as a ‘mon­ster’ and ‘pure evil’. He added: ‘Falder is ab­so­lutely the worst child ex­ploita­tion and black­mail of­fender I have ever seen.’

NCA se­nior in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer Matt Sut­ton added: ‘In more than 30 years of law en­force­ment I’ve never come across an of­fender whose sole motivation was to in­flict such pro­found an­guish and pain. Matthew Falder rev­elled in it.

‘I’ve also never known such an ex­tremely com­plex in­ves­ti­ga­tion with an of­fender who was tech­no­log­i­cally savvy and able to stay hid­den in the dark­est re­cesses of the dark web. This in­ves­ti­ga­tion rep­re­sents a wa­ter­shed mo­ment.’ Will Kerr, NCA di­rec­tor of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, warned: ‘Falder is not alone – there are many other users of some of these dark-web sites and we are very con­cerned about it.’

Cam­bridge Univer­sity, which said it was ‘ap­palled’ at the crimes, is ‘ac­tively pur­su­ing’ strip­ping him of his qual­i­fi­ca­tions, in a ‘very rare’ move for the in­sti­tu­tion. Birm­ing­ham Univer­sity said it was ‘deeply shocked and dis­tressed’ to hear of the of­fences.

A Gumtree spokesman said it wel­comed Falder’s con­vic­tion, adding that it takes the safety of its users ‘ex­tremely se­ri­ously’.

Dou­ble life: Matthew Falder in his PhD gown with two women not con­nected to his crimes

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