One of most prolific paedophiles ever investigated by the NCA is jailed for 25 years
5 News with Rob Jones interview
An online predator who approached more than 5,000 boys online pretending to be multiple teenage girls on Facebook has been jailed for 25 years.
Labourer David Wilson, 36, blackmailed some victims into abusing younger siblings orfriends and sending him the footage.
He is one of the most prolific child sexual abuse (CSA) offenders the National Crime Agency has ever investigated.
Wilson, of Norfolk, terrorised his young victims who were terrified and felt they had no choice but to do what he demanded. Some were so traumatised they spoke of wanting end their lives.
At Ipswich Crown Court, Wilson, was sentenced after admitting 96 sex offences against 52 boys aged from just four to 14 between May 2016 and April 2020.
Judge Rupert Overbury said in his 40-year career Wilson's offending was among the worst he had seen.
Using unregistered phones, Wilson scoured social media sites for vulnerable victims. To deceive young boys into believing they were talking to a teenage girl, he created a spider’s web of fake girls’ identities. He sent them sexual images of young women from the internet in exchange for the boys sending him videos and images of themselves.
He built up trust with his victims before blackmailing them into sending him more extreme footage of themselves – and in some cases, of them abusing younger siblings or friends.
On some occasions Wilson then distributed the images to victims’ friends.
Tony Cook, NCA Head of CSA operations, said: “David Wilson has absolutely devastated not only his victims but the families they belong to.
“He has caused heart-breaking suffering and huge disruption to the lives of those he targeted from the problems his abuse caused.
“Wilson preyed on their vulnerability. They genuinely believed they were talking to a teenage girl who was interested in them.
“He groomed, bullied and blackmailed young boys into sending him indecent images and in some instances performing horrific abuse on themselves and others. Despite knowing their utter anguish and despair he ignored their pleas for him to stop.
“He retained indecent material and threatened to share it among victims’ friends so he could maintain control of them.
“Sadly there are many offenders out there like Wilson who use the internet to hide their real identities, using convincing personas to groom children.’
The NCA launched its investigation into Wilson in 2017 after receiving crucial information from Facebook identifying 20 accounts of boys ranging from 12 to 15 years old, who had sent indecent images of themselves to an account seemingly belonging to a 13-year-old girl.
The overwhelming majority of Wilson’s crimes were committed on Facebook and the company was crucial in bringing him to justice. Facebook made 90 referrals about Wilson’s offending.
But Facebook currently plans to encrypt its messenger service which will mean offenders like Wilson will likely go undetected because the company will no longer be able to see evidence of crimes and report them to global law enforcement.
Rob Jones, NCA Director of Threat Leadership, said: “Facebook’s plans are a disaster for child safety and law enforcement and mean the very many other David Wilsons out there will not be caught.
“Criminals will be drawn to Facebook, emboldened and confident it’s a place they can search for children to sexually abuse with complete impunity.
“Facebook Messenger is already strongly encrypted, enabling them to detect grooming and known abuse images while protecting privacy.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, national policing lead for child protection, said: “The information from Facebook was crucial in bringing Wilson to justice. Which is why I am concerned about Facebook planning to introduce further encryption and privacy protections, making it harder for us to prevent exploitation and find child sexual abusers like Wilson.
“Social media tip offs last year helped policing and the NCA arrest over 4,500 child sex offenders and safeguard 6,000 children in the UK. This clearly shows that quick access to the technology that criminals are using to target and groom children online is absolutely vital. Not only can this evidence help secure prosecutions but it can also identify victims so police can bring an end to their exploitation.”