Brevard Sheriff’s Office Collaborates With International Law Enforcement To Convict Child Sex Offender
By Space Coast Daily // September 16, 2017
prosecuted in a landmark case
“Quite honestly, while 22 years in prison is a strong sentence in the UK, it pales in comparison to the type of justice he really deserves.” – Sheriff Wayne Ivey
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – A cooperative investigation between agents from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Homeland Security Investigations and the Northumbria (UK) police has culminated in an UK citizen being sentenced for multiple sex related crimes committed in England and the United States.
Paul Leighton, 32, of Seaham, United Kingdom, was arrested and prosecuted in a landmark case, where despite not being physically present when the sex crimes were committed, he was charged and successfully prosecuted.
“As Sheriff, I could not be more proud of our Agents and Law Enforcement Partners who helped bring this extremely sick individual that preys upon children to justice,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
“Quite honestly, while 22 years in prison is a strong sentence in the UK, it pales in comparison to the type of justice he really deserves.”
According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, Leighton pleaded guilty to rape, sexual assaults on a child under 13, causing or inciting grooming, making and distributing indecent photographs, blackmail, assault on a child under 13, and possession of a class B drug. Leighton was sentenced to a total of 22 years in prison, which is considered a significant sentence in the UK.
“The investigation was initiated in 2016, when Sheriff’s Office Agents developed information of a 14-year-old who was allegedly sexually abusing a 2-year-old child and videotaping the abuse,” said BCSO PIO Tod Goodyear.
“Agents quickly confirmed the abuse through investigative efforts and were able to recover vital electronic evidence. The electronic data recovered determined that the 14-year-old was communicating with an individual who he believed was a female child from London that was directing him to conduct the sexual abuse.”
Agents believed the alleged female child may have been a fictitious profile and contacted HSI authorities in London to conduct a follow up investigation.
“Once receiving the information, HSI London and Northumbria Police authorities used the evidence recovered from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office and confirmed that the alleged child was in fact a 32-year old-male, identified as Paul Leighton,” said Goodyear.
Further investigation revealed that Leighton was regularly posing as a child and had used up to 40 fake social media accounts to befriend teenagers in the US, Canada, and Australia in order to persuade them to send naked or sexual images of themselves.
London authorities believe there may be as many as 100 victims worldwide who have been victimized by Leighton. Once he had received the images or videos, he would use them to blackmail the children into becoming abusers themselves by threatening to send the images to family members, friends and classmates.
Faced with humiliation, the children agreed to sexually abuse younger siblings, relatives and friends. These victims were on some occasions asked by Leighton to find children on the street to sexually abuse when their sibling or relative were not present.
The sexual acts were video recorded and then forwarded to Leighton, who would then share the videos to other children in order to instruct them with what type of sexual acts to commit on new victims.
This investigation was conducted by the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office/HSI (Brevard) Task Force and worked jointly with HSI Harrisburg, HSI London, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the Northumbria Police Department.
“As a result of this collaborative investigative effort, Leighton will spend the majority of his life in prison unable to victimize any more children,” said Sheriff Ivey.
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