A former University of Birmingham academic, who dubbed himself ‘evilmind’ and ‘666devil’ has today (19/02) been sentenced to 32 years imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to 137 charges including encouraging the rape of a four-year-old boy, following a landmark National Crime Agency investigation.

Geophysicist Dr Matthew Falder, aged 28, from Edgbaston, who is originally from Cheshire and a Cambridge University graduate, was sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court where he admitted the offences in October.

The case is the agency’s first ‘hurt core’ prosecution. Hurt core refers to hidden dark web forums dedicated to the discussion and image and video sharing of rape, murder, sadism, torture, paedophilia, blackmail, humiliation and degradation.

More than 50 victims are represented in the indictment. All have been safeguarded.

Falder, who was employed as a postdoctoral researcher at Birmingham University, was arrested at work on 21st June 2017, was charged three days later and has been on remand since.

He approached victims – whose ages range from early teens to people in their 30s – on forums and mainstream online advertising sites.

His methodology was to masquerade as a female artist and manipulate victims into sending him naked or partially clothed images of themselves.

Using the threat of exposure, Falder blackmailed victims into sending him increasingly severe and depraved abuse images of themselves which he distributed and discussed at length on hurt core sites.

The purpose was to humiliate and degrade the victims.

Calling himself ‘666devil’ and ‘evilmind’, Falder used a range of anonymising techniques to exploit victims, distribute images and communicate with others while hiding his identity.

Falder also secretly filmed adults he knew when they were in the shower, installing hidden cameras at a variety of locations.

Matt Sutton, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “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.

“There are more than 50 victims in this case and I commend them for their bravery in helping us convict a truly evil offender.

“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.

“I urge anyone who is being abused online to talk to somebody, report it. There is help available.”

Ruona Iguyovwe, from the Crown Prosecution Service’s International Justice and Organised Crime Division, said: “Matthew Falder is a highly manipulative individual who used his knowledge of computers and the internet to persuade dozens of young people to supply him with degrading images he could distribute online and subsequently use in blackmailing them.

“He clearly enjoyed humiliating his victims and the impact of his offending, which carried on over several years, has been significant.

“The CPS worked with the National Crime Agency and international partners from an early stage in order to gather compelling evidence against Falder and in the face of that evidence he has now pleaded guilty.”

Help with online safety can be found at www.thinkuknow.co.uk and www.getsafeonline.org, and for confidential support call the NSPCC 0808 800 5000 or Samaritans on 116 123.

If you are worried about online sexual abuse or the way someone has been communicating with you online, you can make a report via www.ceop.police.uk

Child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation also runs the Stop It Now! helpline – 0808 1000 900 – which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.

Papyrus provide confidential advice and support and works to prevent young suicide in the UK. Call 0800 068 4141.