Man jailed for 13 years for directing and paying for sexual abuse of children

A man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for encouraging and paying for the sexual abuse of young children around the world.

Matthew Bower, from Swanley in Kent, directed abuse of young girls by their female family members for pictures and live streams in exchange for money in the US and Romania.

National Crime Agency officers launched an investigation after information received from the FBI.

Officers discovered the 52-year-old paid one woman £6,000 over a six-year period, the majority for the explicit content.

One of the victims, a 15-year-old from the US, reported the abuse in 2017 – which prompted Bower’s arrest.

NCA officers also found Bower had contacted a number of children online via Skype, including two girls from the US, aged eight and 15, and encouraged them to send naked photos and perform sex acts on camera.

Bower first denied his crimes, saying he had been hacked, before pleading guilty to 15 offences including causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and making more than 1,700 indecent images of children.

The acts were committed over a period of nine years between 2008 and 2017.

NCA senior investigating officer Jen Cruickshank said: “Bower is clearly a dangerous individual who has a depraved sexual interest in children.

“For a significant period of time, he actively sought people online – both adults and children – whom he could coerce into sending him abuse material for his sexual gratification.

“I’d like to pay tribute to the victims who bravely spoke about the abuse they had suffered. The initial victim report was the catalyst for this investigation and ultimately led to us being able to identify Bower and ensure further victims were safeguarded.”

Bower was given an extended sentence at Croydon Crown Court.