UK academic who blackmailed victims into sending horrific abuse photos admits 137 offences

Geophysicist Dr Matthew Falder, 28, of Edgbaston, Birmingham, who is originally from Cheshire and a Cambridge University graduate, is seen in an undated booking photograph handed out by the National Crime Agency after he pleaded guilty to 137 offences at Birmingham Crown Court, Britain, October 16, 2017. National Crime Agency via REUTERS

LONDON (Reuters) - A British academic who blackmailed victims into sending him depraved images which he shared on dark web forums dedicated to torture, sadism and paedophilia admitted 137 offences on Monday including encouraging the rape of a four-year-old boy.

Dr Matthew Falder, 28, a geophysicist employed as a researcher at Birmingham University in central England, approached his victims on forums and mainstream online advertising websites masquerading as a female artist.

He fooled them into sending naked or partially clothed images of themselves before blackmailing them into sending increasingly depraved abuse images.

Using the names “evilmind” and “666devil”, he then distributed the images on “hurt core” websites, hidden forums devoted to discussing and rape, murder, sadism, torture, paedophilia, blackmail, humiliation and degradation.

Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) said Falder’s purpose was to humiliate and degrade his victims.

“In 30 years of law enforcement I have never come across such horrifying offending where the offender’s sole aim was to cause such pain and distress,” said Matt Sutton, the NCA’s senior investigating officer.

“It has been an extremely complex investigation into a prolific online predator, who over several years believed he could evade law enforcement to sexually and sadistically exploit vulnerable victims.”

The NCA said there were more than 50 victims, whose ages range from early teens to people in their 30s. Falder, a graduate of Cambridge University, also secretly filmed adults he knew when they were in the shower using hidden cameras he had installed at a number of locations.

He pleaded guilty at Birmingham Corwn Court to 137 charges which included encouraging rape, inciting sexual exploitation and possession of extreme pornography (depicting torture, death and bestiality). He will be sentenced on Dec. 7.

Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Angus MacSwan