Markyate man jailed for part in paedophile ring

Robert Lindsay.

Robert Lindsay. - Credit: Archant

A Markyate man who was part of a paedophile ring has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Michael Emerton.

Michael Emerton. - Credit: Archant

Robert Lindsay, 39, was jailed following a year-long investigation that involved international cooperation between law enforcement agencies.

Six men, all from Hertfordshire, were sentenced at Luton Crown Court yesterday for their roles in the rape or sexual abuse of children aged under 13.

Lindsay pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rape a child, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child, making indecent images of a child and causing or inciting the child sexual exploitation of a 17-year-old.

Matthew Webby.

Matthew Webby. - Credit: Archant

He was sentenced to five years and three months in prison, with a further three years on extended license.

At the centre of the investigation was former Berkhamsted resident Michael Emerton, who was arrested and had his computer seized in November last year, after Herts police received information about him from another police force.

Forensic examination of his computer showed revealed that he had used dating and social media websites such as Grindr, Skype and TruNude to contact other men.

Thomas Perry.

Thomas Perry. - Credit: Archant

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He arranged with five of the men he contacted to stream the live abuse of children via a video link. On other occasions he arranged online to meet them and then take part in sex acts together in front of children.

Emerton pleaded guilty earlier this year to 20 offences, including four counts of rape of a child and three of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was given seven life sentences on March 23, with a minimum of 10 years to be served. He later admitted further offences, including conspiring with the other defendants in order to rape, commit sexual activity with a child or engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child.

Paul Stevens.

Paul Stevens. - Credit: Archant

Yesterday he was given two further life sentences, and will spend the rest of his life on license.

The other men sentenced are Matthew Webby, 30, formerly of Hemel Hempstead, who pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual activity with a child, conspiracy to rape a child, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child, and possession of indecent images of children.

He was jailed for nine years with an extended licence for five years.

Simon Wintle.

Simon Wintle. - Credit: Archant

Simon Wintle, aged 44 and also formerly of Hemel Hempstead, pleaded guilty to sexual activity in the presence of a child and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity in the presence of a child. He was sentenced to two years and six months.

Paul Stevens, aged 54, formerly of Northchurch, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rape a child under 13 and conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13. He was jailed for 10 years with a five year extended licence.

Thomas Perry, aged 28 and formerly of Northchurch, was found guilty on December 7 of conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13, conspiracy to commit sexual activity with a child under 13 and causing a child to watch a sexual act. He will be sentenced on January 24.

The investigation, codenamed ‘Operation Pendent’, is the largest ever conducted by the constabulary’s child safeguarding team.

Chief Inspector Dee Perkins said: “This was an extensive inquiry which resulted in the sharing of intelligence with more than 50 other law enforcement agencies. No stone has been left unturned in the search to identify and protect victims and bring those responsible for these despicable acts to justice.

“Emerton – the paedophile at the centre of this investigation – mercilessly exploited children for his own sexual gratification and for those other men who he met on line. The nine life sentences he has received reflects the disturbing nature of his actions.

“Work is on-going to support the victims and make sure they have the best possible chance of a normal life ahead. I would like to pay tribute to their bravery throughout this process.”