10 July 2017
Two men have been to sentenced to a total of eight years in prison after they admitted creating and running an online chat channel dedicated to viewing and sharing indecent images of children (IIOC).
Brett McBain (51) from Balham, London and David Buckley (54) from Goole, Humberside set up #TheOtherPlace in 2014 describing it as “a channel for the respectful appreciation of youthful beauty”.
David Buckely (left) and Brett McBain
In reality, #TheOtherPlace saw up to 60 users at a time sharing links to as many as 2,500 IIOC in any 24 hour period, including the most severe category A images.
An accompanying blog provided information on how to access the channel, technical tips and rules that users had to adhere to.
NCA officers began investigating #TheOtherPlace following the receipt of intelligence from Western Australian Police, who identified that someone with the username “MrBrett” was a constant presence in the channel posting links to IIOC, commenting on images and directing the activities of other users.
Officers from the NCA’s CEOP Command identified “MrBrett” as Brett McBain and he was arrested at his home address on 25 May 2016 whilst logged into #TheOtherPlace. This enabled NCA officers to maximise child safeguarding opportunities and also prevented McBain concealing or destroying any evidence.
Forensic examinations of McBain’s digital devices showed he was in possession of more than 160,000 category A-C child abuse images, as well as an electronic diary that detailed his fantasies of sexually abusing children. Chat logs also recovered from his laptop showed that he and an individual - ‘Ladybird’ - had planned and set up #TheOtherPlace together, with ‘Ladybird’ regularly undertaking the administration of the channel and posting links to IIOC.
Analysis of communications data assisted CEOP officers to identify ‘Ladybird’ as David Buckley. With the support of Humberside Police, Buckley was arrested at his home address on the 2 August 2016 and during his interview, he admitted to setting up #TheOtherPlace in conjunction with McBain.
In February 2017, McBain was charged with ten offences including making and possessing indecent images of children and conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children. Buckley was charged with conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children
McBain pleaded guilty to all charges in March 2017. Buckley initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea and accepted all charges in May 2017.
Martin Ludlow from the National Crime Agency said:
“These two like-minded individuals brazenly set up a chat room for the sole purpose of viewing and sharing child sexual abuse images. They never met in real life but managed to orchestrate and run the site for two years by communicating with each other online.
“We have dismantled #TheOtherPlace in its entirety, stopping victims being re-victimised each and every time their image is viewed."
McBain pleaded guilty to all charges in March 2017 and was sentenced to five years. Buckley initially pleaded not guilty but later changed his plea and accepted all charges in May 2017. He was sentenced to three years.
Detective Senior Sergeant Colin Keen from Western Australia Police (WA) said the working relationship between the WA Police and the National Crime Agency has led to significant breakthroughs in protecting children and targeting child exploitation material worldwide.
“WA Police initiated Operation Amadeus after investigating the potential distribution of child exploitation material through online chat rooms, and particularly though the Chat Channel #TheOtherPlace,” Keen said.
“Our investigations immediately led to the identification of children at risk, and a number of men in Australia were charged as a result.
“Further liaison with the National Crime Agency in the UK provided positive outcomes in that a joint international approach was adopted. This allowed both agencies to jointly collect and share valuable intelligence and evidence, eventually leading to the subsequent prosecutions.
“The investigations by WA Police will continue as a result, and information has been further shared with other Australian police jurisdictions.
“We are pleased with what has been achieved to date and will continue to work with other law enforcement organisations, such as the National Crime Agency, to actively pursue those who exploit children and put them at risk."