A serial child abuser who contacted 11,000 minors across the world on social media in attempt to get them to perform sexually acts has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Dean Farrar, 50, from Rochdale, pleaded guilty to a catalogue of sexual abuse crimes, including inciting a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity, causing a child under the age of 13 to watch sexual activity, and possession and distribution of indecent images of children.
Police said Farrar had used his iPhone to contact about 11,000 children across the world using the video chat apps Skype, Kik, Oovoo and Yik Yak between 2011 and 2014. Of those he contacted, 308 have been identified, 48 of whom were in the UK.
He was charged with 41 offences against 19 girls, including one who was eight years old. The police were also able to identify a further 157 offenders whom Farrar had shared imagery with. Using false profiles of teenage boys, Farrar would initiate contact with underage girls using video messaging platforms and persuade them to perform sex acts on camera and share indecent images of themselves.
Farrar was sentenced at Minshull Street crown court in Manchester on Monday, to 10 years in custody, of which he will serve at least five before being eligible for release on licence. Judge Mark Savill described the extent and nature of his offending as astonishing and said Farrar had not fully accepted the “emotional upset, fear and guilt” that he had caused his victims.
Savill said Farrar had led a double life, with his online sexual activity “consuming him” and that he seemed to be, to some extent, addicted to such activity.
Farrar was caught when he contacted a 14-year-old girl under the fake name Dean Smythe and asked her to watch him perform a sex act. The girl showed the message to her mother, who called the police.
Greater Manchester police have passed their findings, via the National Crime Agency, to law enforcement agencies across the world – including those in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India and Venezuela – to try and track down other potential victims.
The sentencing comes after figures from the NSPCC showed the internet was used to commit an average of eight sexual crimes against children in England and Wales every day in the past year, including rapes, grooming and live streaming of abuse.
DS Martin Arnfield from Greater Manchester police’s sexual crime unit, which investigated Farrar, said his team regularly dealt with such crimes and that the online abuse of children was on the increase. He said parents should “routinely monitor, without being too intrusive, what children are doing in their bedrooms with what is basically a mobile computer that can take pictures, which can easily be sent around the world at the click of a few buttons”.
Arnfield said: “What we’re talking about here is one person with one phone who’s gone global [in relation to abusing children]. We’re dealing with [cases like this] on a daily basis. There seems to be an abundance of people who get their satisfaction from such acts.”
He said platforms had a responsibility to think about how to protect children but that children were always one step ahead of adults when it came to new social media platforms. “It comes back to parental responsibility, really,” he said. “You’ve got to have a mechanism in place to manage what your children are doing and be aware of the threat that’s out there online.”