Three people have been arrested and a number of children have been safeguarded as part of a Devon and Cornwall Police-led operation into convicted Devon paedophile Alain Charlwood-Collings.
As part of Operation Aero, two women and a man were arrested on Friday 23 February 2018 in Biliran and Culaba and will face justice in the Philippines over allegations of child abuse being carried out and live streamed through Skype.
Charlwood-Collings, aged 39, from Tiverton in Devon, was sentenced at Exeter Crown Court to 18 years in prison on 12 May 2017.
Throughout the trial, the court heard how he arranged for children to be abused in the Philippines while he watched online.
Over £33,000 was transferred over to recipients in the Philippines by Charlwood-Collings to pay for the sexual abuse of up to 46 victims while he watched on Skype and recorded them at his home address in Devon.
Investigating Officer from Devon and Cornwall Police Detective Sergeant Darren White said: “Our team were monitoring websites that his IP address was accessing and downloading images from, which resulted in the discovery of over 100 hours of recorded abuse in 107 individual files. Amongst the 2,000 images, pictures also showed Charlwood-Collings abusing a child.
“Anatomical analysis of individual’s hands depicted in abuse footage and images led to the conviction of Charlwood-Collings.
“Following his conviction, assistance was requested from the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the United Kingdom to facilitate the transfer of investigative material from Operation Aero to authorities in the Philippines to assist in the apprehension of outstanding suspects and the rescuing of children.”
As a result of this warrant, the National Bureau of Investigations Anti-Human Trafficking Division (NBI-AHTRAD) arrested three suspected traffickers which resulted in thirteen victims, including nine children aged between four and 17 and four adult victims, aged 19 and 24, being rescued and taken into care by local authorities for safeguarding.
The number of victims is expected to rise in the coming weeks as the NBI & social workers work in the local community to find the others.
The operational activity comes after DS White gave evidence in the Philippines which secured the arrest warrants.
DS White continued: “This has been a protracted and difficult investigation. Our team are a group of specially trained officers in this criminal area who will leave no stone unturned in an effort to bring offenders to justice for these horrendous crimes.
“It is through extensive police collaboration both nationally and internationally that we have successfully been able to carry out the arrests today and also safeguard 13 children. This could not have been achieved without the work carried out between the NBI, the NCA and authorities in the Philippines.
“Paedophiles are using increasingly sophisticated methods in order to carry on their offending and we, together with other law enforcement agencies, are also using increasingly sophisticated methods to catch them.”
Detective Inspector Andrea Kingdon of Devon and Cornwall Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team said: “Child abuse doesn’t stop at our shores and we were determined to find the other offenders involved in this despicable crime.
“Through tenacious police work, thorough evidential analysis and an effective multi-agency collaboration, we have tracked these suspects down and carried out arrests.
“We have received both great assistance and resource from the NBI and the NCA and our message is clear; there are no limits as to how far and wide our investigations will go to bring offenders to justice and safeguard the vulnerable and exploited.”
Tony Cook, head of operations at the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) said: “We’re pleased to be supporting Devon and Cornwall police in making safe the victims of these horrific crimes.”
“National Crime Agency officers are committed to tackling the live streaming of child sexual abuse, a complex crime which typically cuts across national borders.
“We use our unique international capabilities to support police forces and international partners to pursue offenders at home and abroad. Protecting the victims of abuse and bringing to justice the offenders responsible, including those who encourage abuse by viewing, downloading or sharing footage or images, is a priority for the agency.
“By working closely with international partners, we are capable of bringing those offenders to justice wherever in the world they may be.”
Atty. Janet Francisco, Chief of NBI-AHTRAD, also hailed the successful operations and said: “The arrest and rescues we made on Friday 23 February in Region 8 by NBI-AHTRAD and local NBI agents should send a clear message that Online Sexual Exploitation of Children (OSEC) will not be tolerated anywhere in the Philippines.”