National Crime Agency brings to justice prolific offender who committed 96 sex abuse crimes
The National Crime Agency has brought to justice one of the most prolific offenders it has ever investigated.
David Wilson, an online predator who targeted thousands of children has admitted 96 sex abuse offences against
51 boys aged four to 14.
Officers unearthed evidence that out of the 5,000 children he contacted in the UK and abroad, as many as 500
victims sent him images.
Labourer Wilson, 36, from Norfolk, created a series of fake online identities to contact young boys on Facebook
and other social media platforms.
He pretended to be multiple teenage girls and built trust with his victims, sending them sexual images of young
women harvested from the internet in exchange for the boys sending him images and videos of themselves.
Using unregistered mobile phones, he then blackmailed a number of his victims into sending him more extreme
footage – and in some cases, of them abusing younger siblings or friends.
On some occasions Wilson then distributed the images to victims’ friends. He showed no compassion even when
some victims begged him to stop. Such was the level of suffering Wilson inflicted, several children on the
indictment spoke of wanting to end their lives.
Wilson appeared at Ipswich Crown Court last month and admitted 96 charges relating to 51 victims between 2016
and 2020. He will be sentenced on 12 January 2021.
The charges included: intentionally causing or inciting boys to engage in sexual activity; blackmail; intentionally causing children to look at sexual images, and intentionally facilitating the sexual exploitation of children by sending on images of those children.
In June and July 2017, Facebook identified 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 material was forwarded to the NCA for investigation by NCMEC – the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children – which receives industry referrals before disseminating them to law enforcement agencies to investigate.
The NCA uncovered key evidence against Wilson: IP addresses used to commit the offences resolved to his house; CCTV footage of him buying a top-up voucher for a phone number linked to one of the fake Facebook accounts; and when he was arrested in August 2017 the phone used to commit some of the offences was hidden in his bedroom.
He was released on bail for the investigation to continue.
The NCA uncovered a web of false social media identities he used to commit offences. Wilson used consistent tradecraft to avoid detection.
NCA investigators used huge amounts of communication data to link the offending profiles and ultimately prove Wilson was responsible.
Between November 2017 and January 2018 NCMEC made dozens more referrals.
In all Facebook material made up 90 referrals from NCMEC to the NCA. Their information was crucial to Wilson facing justice – though Facebook currently plans to encrypt its messenger service which will mean offenders like Wilson will likely go undetected.
In order to obtain the evidence from relevant Facebook, Snapchat, Google and Instagram accounts, an International Letter of Request (ILOR) was prepared and submitted to US authorities via the Crown Prosecution Service.
This was an extremely involved legal process that took close to two years to complete. The NCA received the relevant evidential material in October 2019.
It contained more than 250,000 messages to analyse and the scale of Wilson’s offending became clear with victims across the UK and in America and Australia.
In April this year Wilson was charged with three counts and remanded. In August while in prison he was charged with the remaining counts.
Tony Cook, NCA head of CSA operations, said: “David Wilson is a prolific offender who has caused heart-breaking suffering to some of the boys and their families in this case.
“Wilson is an example of adult sexual offenders who use the internet to hide their real identities, using plausible online personas to exploit children.”
Rob Jones, NCA Director of Threat Leadership, said: “This was a major investigation which has brought a very dangerous offender to justice.
“It’s chilling to think Wilson wouldn’t have been caught if Facebook had already implemented their end-to-end encryption plans which will entirely prevent access to message content.
“The NCA, wider law enforcement and child safety groups are clear that the move will turn the lights out for policing and effectively provide cover for offenders such as Wilson.”