Dark web paedophile Matthew Falder jailed for 32 years
A “warped and sadistic” paedophile who blackmailed victims and shared abuse tips and images on the dark web has been jailed for 32 years.
Cambridge graduate Matthew Falder, 29, admitting 137 charges, including rape, against 46 people, some of whom were in court to see him jailed.
He coerced victims into acts including licking toilet seats and self-harming.
At Birmingham Crown Court, Judge Philip Parker QC labelled Falder an “internet highwayman” with a “lust to control”.
The Cambridge graduate, who was a lecturer at the University of Birmingham, will spend a further six years on licence after his release from prison.
The University of Cambridge said it was actively pursuing stripping Falder of his academic qualifications.
The court heard Falder, who lived in Edgbaston, had no previous convictions and excelled at school, where he was described as “one of the finest students with an international impact”.
However, his offending lasted nearly 10 years and became “increasingly menacing”, Judge Parker said.
Victims described how they “will never get over” what happened to them.
Others described how they feel “dirty, like used goods” since their interactions with Falder.
One mother, who was duped into sending Falder images of her daughter, said: “I feel as if I failed my daughter massively by being too trusting.
“That will never go away, and it is something I have to live with an struggle with the guilt for the rest of my life.
“I am carrying the weight of what happened on my shoulders daily and its been exhausting.”
Four of Falder’s victims attempted suicide.
Falder duped victims on Gumtree, then immediately moved them away from the website’s servers and onto email.
This meant he could maintain anonymity to his victims, demanding increasingly depraved images.
Once he had compromising images of his victims, Falder told them to send him more material or he would share images with their friends and family.
He forced victims to lick toilet seats and eat dog food and then posted the images on “hurtcore” websites, described as hidden forums on the dark web dedicated to sharing images and videos of rape, torture, paedophilia and degradation.
He evaded capture by using heavily encrypted email addresses, which he obtained through Russian email services.
Falder was eventually caught by an international global taskforce, involving security services from Europe, the US, Australia, New Zealand and Israel.
The investigation to catch him began in August 2013 when the FBI began looking into dark web paedophilia sites, identifying a user known as ‘Inthegarden’ and passing files to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
This was the start of a four-year operation which saw law enforcement seek to identify Inthegarden, and eventually linking Falder to the username along with others ‘evilmind’ and ‘666devil’.
Scott Crabb, of US Homeland Security said: “There’s some closure to be had with a sentence like this.
“I’ve just never seen anything like this, where someone is willing to go to these lengths to torment people.
“It’s testament to the NCA who stuck with it for all these years, to ultimately catch him.”
August 2013 – FBI begins its investigation into dark web paedophilia sites, identifying user known as Inthegarden and passing files to the NCA
April 2015 – The NCA investigate 666devil with “daughter” icon posting on a dark web forum. Officers discover links between 666devil, evilmind and Inthegarden while seeking to “safeguard” the girl
August 2015 – Suspect’s webmail accounts are accessed, identifying the girl in his profile and further US victims. Taskforce set up between NCA, GCHQ, Homeland Security, Europol and Australian Federal Police
March 2017 – “Person of interest” identified at an address in Birmingham
April 2017 – Falder identified as the suspect
June 2017 – Falder arrested while at work at the University of Birmingham. Devices seized and Edgbaston home raided. Three days of questioning reveals Falder is behind 666devil
June to October 2017 – Falder admits to and is charged with 137 offences. A further 51 remain on file
Will Kerr, director of vulnerabilities for the NCA, said: “At one point there were 100 investigators working on this case using the broadest range of new covert capabilities to try and identify and catch him.
“It’s a bit of a watershed moment this investigation for policing.
“It highlights a previously unknown level of very horrific offending – there were over 300 contact reports from Matthew Falder alone.”
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