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Babysitters jailed for raping baby

Staff and agencies
Tuesday January 10, 2006

Guardian Unlimited

A man and his girlfriend were jailed today for raping a 12-week-old child they were babysitting and taking pictures of the abuse.
Alan Webster, 40, was jailed for life after pleading guilty at St Albans crown court to rape, indecent assault, permitting indecent images to be taken of a child and making indecent images in February and March 2004.

His girlfriend Tanya French, 19, was jailed for five years and given an extended licence period of five years after admitting the same charges.

Webster was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a 14-year-old girl who was a regular visitor to the home he shared with French in Hatfield, Herts.

The court heard that the mother of the baby, who was introduced to French by a friend, agreed to allow her child to be cared for while she decorated her new home. The mother was unaware of the attack on her baby until detectives visited after finding photographs showing the abuse at Webster's home.

Sentencing Webster, judge Findlay Baker said: "These offences were committed against the most vulnerable victim it is possible to imagine - a little baby. Much of what you did was photographed so you had a record of yourself living out your depraved fantasies.

"You also befriended a youngster of 14 until she was besotted by you, grooming her in your ways. There are no words to express the abhorrence such offending generates."

The judge ordered that Webster should spend a minimum of 12 years in prison before being considered for release.

Sentencing French, he said: "It seems clear to me that you did not shrink away from the acts in which you joined. Rather, you keenly looked forward to them. In your case, these offences are aggravated by the breach of trust placed in you by the baby's mother and of course by the child, albeit unknowingly.

"However, I have to accept you are to some extent a victim yourself. Having come under his malign influence you were to some extent corrupted by him and shut your eyes to the fact that what you were doing was evil."

The offences came to light after Hertfordshire police were alerted by international law enforcers working on Operation Ore of concerns that Webster had downloaded about 7,000 indecent images from the internet.

Officers executed a search warrant at a house in Hatfield on July 26 last year and found a photograph album containing images showing Webster and French committing acts of abuse.

Webster admitted four charges of rape, five indecent assaults, two charges of permitting indecent images to be taken of children and two counts of making indecent images of children relating to the abuse of the baby.

He also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of indecent assault in relation to the 14-year-old and seven offences of possessing child abuse images. French admitted one charge of rape, four indecent assaults, two charges of permitting indecent images to be taken of children and two counts of making indecent images of children.

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Keith Tilley, who led the investigation, said the case was one of the worst he had yet come across during his work with the child abuse investigation team.

"The mother of the victim in this case had acted with all the best interests in finding a babysitter to care for her child but this set off a horrific and tragic chain of events," he said.

Carol Taylor, head of child protection for Hertfordshire county council, said: "This shocking case reminds us of the extreme vulnerability of children. If a child cannot be cared for by a registered childcare provider, such as a nursery or childminder, it is vitally important that parents know and trust the adults that are entrusted with their child's welfare."

Yeah, Britain's great.


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