A prolific and “evil” child rapist has been jailed for life after being exposed by technology that pixelated the faces of his abuse victims in pictures he took of them.
Martin Armstrong, from Pembrokeshire, recorded himself “depraving” three children, including a one-year-old victim, and posted the images on the dark web.
The 50-year-old was arrested last July after police developed the tool.
Armstrong pleaded guilty to 41 counts of rape of a child under 13 and sexual assault related to two victims, as well as one count of making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children about them and a third victim.
Cardiff’s Recorder Tracy Lloyd Clarke, who sentenced the accused to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years, said “the nature and depravity of your offending is appalling”.
Roger Griffiths, prosecuting, told Cardiff Crown Court that Armstrong took photographs of his child abuse between 2005 and 2007 and between December 16, 2009 and February 6, 2011, and admitted that in 2010 A photo of the third child was taken on the beach.
He posted online a series of 200 extremely graphic images and a video file titled “Father Jones” showing him repeatedly raping his youngest victim.
Since 2013, the series has become known to criminal agencies around the world as files were shared and downloaded in 18 countries. In early 2022, the folder is still shared across six sites in the UK.
Rapist distorts himself with Photoshop
Mr Griffiths said Armstrong used Photoshop to place aliasing on his images but did not conceal the victim’s identity.
Because his face was blurred, investigators were unable to identify the pedophile for nearly a decade, despite repeated attempts by law enforcement partners in Australia, Italy and France.
Mr Griffiths said National Crime Agency (NCA) officers were able to use their new tool to de-pixelate images of defendants in the series in July last year after the offender’s face appeared distorted in one image.
Developed by British NCA officials, the software is the first of its kind in the world.
Technology promises to help identify future perpetrators
From the undistorted images, police were able to identify Armstrong’s Facebook profile, leading to his arrest.
The plan is expected to help identify future perpetrators.
Martin Ludlow from the NCA said: “I don’t believe he [Armstrong] Thinking he’ll get caught, the twisted technology he uses will protect him.
“However, the NCA and our international partners are determined to ensure that his nefarious actions do not go unpunished.
“Our commitment to identifying him was unwavering, and ultimately, NCA officials developed an entirely new process that led to his unmasking.”
Armstrong admitted to distributing photos and naming the Father Jones series.
Adam Sharp, defending, said: “Mr Armstrong does not want me to try to lessen the depravity of his actions or their impact on his victims.”