'Depraved' dark web paedophile gets 32 years for sadistic abuse
A Cambridge University graduate and academic, who used the dark web to blackmail, abuse and humiliate a string of vulnerable victims, has been jailed for 32 years, after a judge branded him an "internet highwayman".
Dr Matthew Falder admitted blackmailing his targets into carrying out appalling acts which left three so traumatised they attempted to take their own lives.
The 29-year-old admitted 137 offences, relating to 46 complainants, which included encouraging the rape of a child, forcing one girl to eat dog food and making another lick a toilet seat.
He was caught only after an international investigation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA), and involving the Department for Homeland Security in America and spies based at Britain's GCHQ.
A spokesman for Cambridge University said it was now actively pursuing stripping Falder of his academic qualifications.
Sentencing "warped and sadistic" Falder for "a tale of ever-increasing depravity", Judge Philip Parker QC said: "As for your equally extraordinary sexual offending - no one who knew you above ground had an inkling of what you were doing below the surface."
The judge said Falder had been brought up by a loving family and had enjoyed an excellent education, gaining a PhD from Cambridge.
But branding him an "internet highwayman", he added: "You wanted to assume total control over your victims. Your behaviour was cunning, persistent, manipulative and cruel."
For the victims, he said: "The damage is on-going for these individuals. It will never end, knowing the abuse caused by you still exists in other unknown persons' computers."
The judge, who also concluded Falder was a dangerous offender, added: "These sentencing remarks underplay your relentless, obsessive desire to continue committing offences."
The court heard how Falder had initially duped victims into providing nude images of themselves by posing as a female artist who wanted to use them to create life drawings.
But once he had the photographs he used them to blackmail the victims into taking part in increasingly degrading activities, known as the 'hurtcore'.
Another victim was blackmailed into eating his faeces and drinking urine, while Falder also encouraged the rape of a boy, aged two, by his own father.
He also set up hidden cameras in publicly accessible toilets and at his parents' home, catching his unsuspecting victims on film, and using the footage to blackmail, and trade with others online.
One of his victims, speaking anonymously after his sentencing, described how his abuse led to the breakdown of "all relationships" in her life, and how she was now "scared to meet people".
Falder, of Harborne Park Road, Birmingham, committed the offences over an eight-year period and never physically met any of his victims, but manipulated them from afar by duping them into providing nude images and personal details.
On his arrest, the former post-doctoral researcher in geophysics at the University of Birmingham, asked officers "what is it I've done", before correcting himself and adding "supposed to have done"?
He then quipped that the list of suspected offences sounded "like the rap sheet from hell".
Prosecutors said Falder was also a member of several "virtual communities" of abusers, and in one such forum on the dark web, had a "membership rank level of 'Rapist'".
Will Kerr, NCA director of vulnerabilities, said police were increasingly concerned about the emergence of hurtcore offenders.
© Daily Telegraph, London