UK paedophile gang leader jailed
10 January 2011, 22:27
London - The "Svengali-like" leader of an online paedophile ring who drew in four female accomplices was jailed on Monday for a minimum of nine years and might never be released.
IT consultant Colin Blanchard, 40, convinced four women - Vanessa George, 40, Tracy Lyons, 41, Tracy Dawber, 44, and Angela Allen, 40 - to sexually assault young children and share the images.
Lyons was jailed for seven years and Dawber was given a four-year term while fellow paedophiles George and Allen are already serving prison sentences.
"This case involving the three of you, together with Vanessa George and Angela Allen, has caused widespread revulsion and disbelief," said the judge, Justice Royce at Bristol Crown Court.
Prosecutors have described the defendants as "one of the most sickening paedophile rings this country has seen", the Press Association reported.
Police smashed the gang when a work colleague of Blanchard found child sex abuse images on his computer in June 2009 and called police.
The net closed in on the rest when detectives identified nursery worker George, mother-of-nine Lyons, community care worker Dawber and ex-prostitute Allen as being the other members.
Blanchard met the women over the internet and convinced them to sexually assault young children and send him the images.
George abused young children at Little Ted's nursery in Plymouth, and Allen and Lyons both assaulted youngsters to please Blanchard.
Unlike the other women, Dawber actually met Blanchard and was in a year-long relationship with him. She sexually assaulted a child and allowed Blanchard to take pictures of the abuse on his mobile phone.
George was obsessed with Blanchard, telling him she was his "paedo whore mum" and sending him eight pictures a week.
It emerged during the sentencing hearing that Lyons and Allen had been in regular contact on Facebook - although they had never met in person.
"Your influence Colin Blanchard - described this morning as Svengali-like, over four separate women so they engaged in sexual abuse of children of such tender years - is frightening," Royce said.
"It is more extraordinary when one appreciates you never actually met three of them face to face."
Blanchard, George, Allen and Lyons pleaded guilty to a string of charges of sexual assault and making and possessing child pornography.
Dawber was found guilty in October after a re-trial.