MP calls for harsher term for dark web offender

An MP has written to the Attorney General to ask for a harsher sentence for a man who helped run a global child abuse website on the dark web.

Eastbourne MP Caroline Ansell has labelled Martin Yates’ five years and four month sentence “unduly lenient”.

Yates, of Eastbourne, was a moderator for the site known as The Annex, which shared sexual abuse material of babies and toddlers.

In a letter to Victoria Prentis, Ms Ansell said: “This sentence does not, in my view, contribute to a sense of justice.”

Yates was the assistant moderator of the website, which had about 90,000 members worldwide, between January and September 2020.

He was responsible for enforcing the rules by promoting or dropping users, advising on security measures and training others, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

He pleaded guilty to one count of arranging or facilitating the sexual abuse of children, four of making and distributing indecent images of children and one of possession of prohibited images of children.

‘Longer sentences’

Ms Ansell asked the Attorney General to review his sentence under the Unduly Lenient Sentencing Scheme.

“I do not believe his sentence matches the severity of his crime, the harm on victims, his role in the organisation and, crucially, the sentences granted to other perpetrators in similar positions,” she said.

Nathan Bake, 28, from Cheshire, was jailed for 16 years, while Kabir Garg, 34, from London, was sentenced to six years in prison last year for their roles in moderating the site, which is no longer active.

More than a dozen other men have been charged in the US for their roles in helping to run the site, with eight receiving jail sentences of between six and 28 years.

“It has been reported that discussions between moderators were like staff meetings and so I believe Mr Yates shares the responsibility of those like Mr Blake who were given longer sentences,” Ms Ansell added.

“I do not feel that significant variation in sentences is justified. The continuing impact for victims will be lifelong and significant.”

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Written by T. Miller

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