700 arrested as British police smash global child porn ring

Police have broken up an international child porn network run from a British-based website, rescuing 31 children and rounding up more than 700 suspects, including some in Canada.

British police said Monday that they have broken upan international child pornography network run from a British-based website, rescuing 31 children and rounding up more than 700 suspects — including some in Canada.

Timothy David Martyn Cox, a British man who ran the child-porn chat room under the online identity Son of God, was arrested in 2006 and sentenced Monday. ((London police))
Some 200 of the suspects are based in the United Kingdom, said officials from the London-based Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

The investigation involved agencies from 35 countries, includingthe Toronto Police Service,and has gone on for 10 months.Toronto police conducted online surveillance along with British police, the centre said.

Thenetwork was traced to an internet chat room called Kids the Light of Our Lives that featured images of children being subjected to horrific sexual abuse, the centre said.

The host of the website — Timothy David Martyn Cox, 27, of Buxhall, England —was given an indeterminate jail sentence on Monday. The sentence meanshe will stay in prison until authorities determine he is no longer a threat to children.

"You are obsessed with images of children being sexually abused,"Judge Peter Thompson told Cox as he sentenced him.

"These are shocking images which involve very young children— in the worst cases being subjected to sadistic, painful abuse which you, for some distorted reason, appear to take enjoyment from."

Arrests in Canada

Elementsof the investigationbelonged to alarger global child porn probe called Project Wickerman, which has already led to dozens of arrests around the world, Toronto Det.-Sgt. Kim Scanlan told CBC Newsworld on Monday.

Project Wickerman began in early 2005, when a 49-year-old man was charged with distributing child porn after police raided his Edmonton home while he was at his computer.That led to a larger investigation of people who were using the internet to shareimages of sexual assaults.

The investigationwas first made public in March 2006, when police said they had infiltrated a series of child-porn chat rooms and arresteddozens of people around theworld, including14 Canadians. They also rescuedsix Canadian children.

Since then, 10 more Canadians have been arrested and one more Canadian child has been rescued, Scanlan said Monday.

She saidthe child is from Ontario, but would not provide any further information.

Briton ran websitefrom family home

Cox, who used the online identity Son of God, ran the website from his bedroom froma large farmhouse where he lived with his parents and sister.

After his arrest in September 2006, he admitted to nine counts of possessing and distributing indecent images, authorities said. Police found 75,960 indecent and explicit images on Cox's computer.

Police, including officers from the Toronto police's sex crimes unit,were able to infiltrate the website's chat room and collect evidence on other members.

Toronto police Det.-Const. Paul Krawczyk said officers assumed the personas of users and built relationships with other users.

"We had been working this case 24/7 for months and months and months [and] we knew these people better than they knew themselves," he said.

Another man who police say took control of the website after Cox's arrest has pleaded guilty to 27 charges of making, possessing and distributing indecent images and videos.

Gordon Mackintosh, 33, hasn't been sentenced.

With files from the Associated Press