Live-streaming blackmailer who ran child abuse site jailed for eight years
Matthew Claridge, 49, of Cardiff, employed a scatter gun approach to target vulnerable young users of a live-streaming site asking them to send him indecent images of themselves.
He used a screen recorder application to make videos of two UK victims broadcasting indecent videos of themselves.
Using the online name ‘Cuddlemonkey’, he tried to groom and coerce one girl to send him pictures of her genitals which he asked her to photograph in public to worsen her humiliation.
The girl told him she was 10-years-old but he continued with the abuse.
Claridge also tried to groom a young American girl into sending him indecent images of herself created at his request.
And he blackmailed another young girl whose videos he acquired via the live-streaming site. He used the videos to groom and threaten her into sending him further indecent images and videos of herself.
He told her: “Bitch you think I won’t do this? Get ready for your life to fall apart when your whole school, all your friends and your family see you…”
National Crime Agency (NCA) officers discovered that Claridge was an operator of #TheOtherPlace which saw up to 60 users at a time sharing links to as many as 2,500 indecent images of children (IIOC) in any 24-hour period, including the most severe category A images.
An accompanying blog explained how to access the channel, technical tips and rules that users had to follow.
On #TheOtherPlace, Claridge used the name HariboAlie and pretended to be a 13-year-old girl called Alie.
He operated the site with Brett McBain, 53, and David Buckley, 56, who were jailed for five years and three years respectively last year in a related NCA investigation.
NCA officers arrested Claridge at his home in Llys Tripp, Gwaelod-y Garth, Taffs Well, on the 8th of May 2017 and seized five electronic devices.
Analysis of them revealed his live-streaming offending.
Investigators discovered Claridge tried to contact more than 100 other live-streaming accounts which he believed belonged to children, with the following line:
“Hey gorgeous girl….yr SOOO beautiful how would you like to top up your pocket money and really treat youself?? if you want to do some private shows for me, I can send you money……message me back and we can chat about it. it’s just what you’ve been doing, but you get money for it. love you loads.”
The NCA recovered all the chat logs and worked with police in the UK, the US and Canada to identify children who Claridge contacted in his scatter gun approach. Once identified, victims were safeguarded and given advice and support about their internet use.
Claridge’s electronic devices contained 9,700 abuse pictures and 543 videos.
NCA investigators also recovered chatlogs between him and other offenders discussing online security.
The abuse imagery included girls as young as toddlers and adults sexually abusing pre-pubescent children.
Claridge admitted making and possessing indecent images of children; communicating with a girl under 16 for sexual gratification, causing or inciting a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity, making unwarranted demands with threats, two counts of attempting to cause a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and helping run #TheOtherPlace.
At the time of his arrest Claridge had been released on licence having been convicted of sexually assaulting a child in 2008.
Today, he was jailed at Cardiff Crown Court and given an indefinite sexual harm prevention order restricting his internet and computer use, and he was put on the sex offenders register indefinitely.
Martin Ludlow, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “Matthew Claridge is an online predator who used his knowledge to target and exploit young children.
“The NCA is committed to identifying and pursuing offenders who use the internet to contact and exploit children.
“We have pursued those responsible for setting up and running #TheOtherPlace, preventing children from being revictimised each time their images are shared online.
“The ready availability of live-streaming services means offenders find it easy to target and exploit vulnerable children who broadcast videos without fully understanding the risks involved. Offenders like Claridge are able to communicate directly with children live and ultimately exploit them.
“With the popularity of live-streaming ever increasing with children, it is important parents and carers understand what risks they may face and the practical help available to make them safer.”
For help and advice follow:
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.