Sunderland dad amassed huge child sex abuse collection and shared it with other perverts around the world
A married dad who encouraged a serial rapist to send him videos of himself abusing a young girl and collected more than 600,000 indecent images of children has been jailed.
Depraved Mark Ferguson used an online file-sharing network to distribute more than 6,000 files worth of indecent images in more than 4,000 internet chats to perverts from all over the world.
Newcastle Crown Court heard how the 56-year-old had the username Odeap, which is 'paedo' spelled backwards, and collected the 640,465 images for his own sordid sexual gratification.
Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw told the court how the National Crime Agency (NCA) became aware of Ferguson's online activities.
They arrested him at his home on February 3, 2017, and investigators seized 19 of his electronic devices including a computer, laptop, mobile phones and memory sticks.
Mr Wardlaw said: "The images had children as young as six months. There was also images of bondage and torture of very young children.
"This was calculated, organised and systematic over a long period of time. He had categorised and classified the files in gender and various images."
Mr Wardlaw told the court how the defendant had been communicating with a man on the other side of the world who was sending images of him raping his young nieces.
He said: "The defendant was in effect encouraging that man, saying how much he enjoyed it. In interview the defendant was very candid with police."
In an interview with the NCA, Ferguson initially denied he had a sexual interest in children and said that he was "more of a collector" who wanted full sets of images.
However, Ferguson, of Baulkham Hills, Penshaw, Sunderland, admitted three counts of making indecent images and three counts of distributing indecent images.
All the images spanned from category A to category C – with category A being the most serious.
Vic Laffey, defending, told the court how, following his arrest, Ferguson sought help from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation – a charity which works with paedophiles to prevent child sex abuse.
Mr Laffey said: "I have had the opportunity to discuss these matters with him and he has exhibited to me his shame. He is in a way relieved that he has been traced.
"He continues to reside with his wife and daughter. They support (him), but in no way condone what he has done.
"The defendant is an intelligent man and he is able to acknowledge that these are not victim-less crimes.
"He has also significantly demonstrated steps to address the problems off his own back."
Describing the case as "chilling", Judge Jo Kidd said that there was no alternative but to lock Ferguson up, and sentenced him to 45 months in custody.
Judge Kidd told Ferguson: "Since 2008 you have been habitually looking on the internet, seeking out indecent images of children.
"Your particular interest seems to be very young girls, specifically toddlers and babies.
"It is difficult to imagine more disgusting images, and difficult to imagine how a man with your background could have spent the last nine years seeking out for your own sexual pleasure images of children being raped in that way.
"You possessed and distributed a phenomenal amount of the most depraved and disgusting images possible.
"Over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017, you struck up a communication with a man who is now serving a prison sentence of 20-plus years for the rape of female family members.
"What that chat demonstrated was your persistent requests for that serial child rapist for him to share videos of him raping the little girls to you.
"It was clear how much you enjoyed and satisfaction you gained when he sent videos to you.
"You anticipated with glee at the fact that a new little girl would be arriving in their family home.
"Mr Ferguson, you are a paedophile and you are struggling to accept that.
"You had an active involvement in a network that facilitate the sharing of indecent images of children."
Ferguson was also subjected to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and must sign the sex offenders' register for life.