A brother and sister and another woman have been jailed for a total of 45 years after taking part in a horrific campaign of sexual abuse against children.
Matthew Thatcher, 26, and his half-sister Emily Thomson, 18, were jailed along with Mandy Wright, 28, of Cardiff, for targeting three children in a sustained catalogue of abuse.
The three defendants admitted to 36 counts relating to the sexual abuse of the three children aged under 16.
Cardiff Crown Court heard yesterday that Thatcher and Thomson took photographs of themselves sexually assaulting the children and sent graphic messages about the abuse.
The defence for Thomson, of Neath, said she was ‘blinded with her infatuation’ for her brother and ‘did not view him as a relative’.
Matthew Thatcher (left), 26, and his half-sister Emily Thomson (right), 18, targeted three children in their sustained catalogue of abuse
Recorder of Cardiff Eleri Rees said: ‘The images and messages showed a careless disregard for the welfare of the children.’
The court heard that South Wales Police officers discovered hundreds of images of sexual abuse of children by the trio, including dozens marked as the most extreme category A.
Referring to Thatcher, of Ely, Cardiff, Recorder Rees added: ‘He descended into the darkest of places. He discovered that he was capable of doing the most dreadful things.
‘He was caught up in something that he found very difficult to get out of. It was a dreadful thing that was taking place.’
The court heard that the harrowing abuse at one point caused the children to cry ‘like they could not breathe’.
A medical examination of one of the young victims showed signs of ‘chronic sexual abuse’, the court heard.
The trio’s sustained abuse came to light after Thatcher was caught trying to meet what he thought was a 14-year-old he had spoken to over Facebook.
Mandy Wright, 28, of Ely, Cardiff, was jailed for her part in the crime, including possessing images of child sex abuse
Prosecutor Suzanne Thomas told the court that the messages became ‘sexual’ and they arranged to meet up.
After Thatcher arrived at the location the woman reported the matter to police.
Recorder Rees sentenced Thatcher to 26 years, Thomson to 12 years, and Wright to seven years.
Thatcher was charged with 15 offences, including rape and sexual assault of a child, and Thomson was charged with 16 counts, including sexual assault and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
Wright was charged with five offences, including possessing images of child sex abuse.
The court also imposed sexual harm prevention orders on the trio.
DCI Karen Thomas, from South Wales Police, said: ‘Today, Matthew Thatcher, Emily Thomson, and Mandy Wright have been given long and deserved sentences for what are abhorrent crimes which have had a devastating impact upon their victims.
‘Absorbing the detail and the nature of the abuse committed by these individuals has been harrowing for even the most experienced professionals involved in the investigation.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to publicly commend the bravery of the victims in this case – they have experienced things which nobody should have to endure.’
DCI Thomas said that the sentences will ‘in some way’ help the victims ‘move forward with their lives’.
She added: ‘This case really is proof that reporting suspicions and concerns to the police, the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, or to organisations such as the NSPCC can help to put an immediate end to the suffering endured by our most vulnerable individuals, and ensure that those behind the abuse are put behind bars where they can no longer offend.’