Scotland Yard say 57 year old Stephen Freeman from Bellingham is at the centre of a landmark development in prosecuting people responsible for creating images of child abuse.
After the end of an Old Bailey trial this week, it can be revealed that he is the ringleader of a paedophile ring whose associates attended regular “parties” where they would exchange child abuse material.
The case is the first successful prosecution in England and Wales of an individual for making drawings depicting child abuse.
Freeman from Arnulf Street, Catford pleaded guilty on 3rd of May this year to a series of offences under the Coroners and Justice Act for creating a series of hand drawn illustrations which featured the sexual and physical abuse of youngsters.
The group were arrested after their “gatherings” were disrupted by what Scotland Yard describes as “a covert and protracted investigation” launched in mid-2008 by detectives from the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Child Abuse Investigation Command.
Freeman, is an ex-committee member of the former international organisation known as The Paedophile Information Exchange. He hosted meetings where it is believed the men would share and exchange images, videos and even computer games. Some of the material constituted abuse deemed to be of the most serious nature known legally as “level 5.”
Detective Inspector Paul Maddocks from the MPS Child Abuse Investigation Command said:
I am delighted with these convictions which have seen five individuals who pose a significant threat to society convicted and held accountable for their most serious of crimes. This was a long and complex investigation involving the analysis of a large amount of material and I would like to thank the CPS for their support with the case.
The detective added that Freeman’s involvement in the Paedophile Information Exchange (PIE), meant that he was:
instrumental in bringing this group of men together and encouraging the exchange of material. Even when caught, his arrogance was such that he refused to provide police with the key to a large quantity of encrypted information held on computer discs.
Freeman, along with 4 other men, is to be sentenced at the Central Criminal Court on 3rd June.