A former Hinchingbrooke Hospital nurse has been jailed after admitting he logged onto an internet chatroom to watch a live broadcast of a man raping a child.
Michael Brown, aged 49, from St Neots, was one of six men to be sentenced after the National Crime Agency (NCA) carried out an investigation into the broadcast.
Brown was sentenced to four years when he appeared at Cambridge Crown Court, in January, after he admitted three counts of intentionally encouraging or assisting the showing of indecent images of children. He will also be the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and has been placed on the sex offenders register. The court made clear that Brown had used his personal computer and had not carried out his activities using hospital equipment.
Brown, who worked at Hinchingbrooke at the time of his arrest, hid behind the usernames “perv” and “pervnpoppers”. He was logged into the chat room while the rape was streamed in July, 2015 by the abuser, William Chandler Augusta, from Pennsylvania.
Augusta was sentenced for a range of offences and could spend up to 30 years in jail. His victim was identified by police officers in the US and protective measures have been taken there.
Matt Sutton, operations manager at the NCA, said: “Michael Brown was in a position of trust, working as a nurse in a hospital. He was supposed to be caring for people, but he was actively encouraging his online acquaintances to share images of child abuse. Every child in those images is victimised again when they are shared.
Brown’s conviction follows that of Philip Crabtree, 36, from Newcastle-under-Lyme, who emailed “sick” instructions to Augusta as he carried out the abuse.
Former primary school teacher Wayne Brookes, 43, of Weston-super-Mare, youth worker Darren Williams, 43, of Newport, and Stephen Wilkie, 52, of Ealing, London, were jailed after they were found to be online in the chatroom as the rape was streamed.
Christian Johnson Lueking, 36, of Raynes Park, London, who was not online during the attack, but logged on shortly afterwards has also been convicted.
The NCA has identified that the sharing and live streaming of child abuse on a variety of platforms in real time is a growing threat and as a result, UK law enforcement officers are responding to a significant increase in the reporting of child sexual exploitation.
Mr Sutton added: “The NCA and its partners in law enforcement are wholly committed to tackling this threat and at all times the safety of children is our priority. We and our partners in policing are trained and equipped with specialist capabilities with which to detect these people. Those who offend in this way will be found and brought to justice.”
In a statement, Jo Bennis, chief nurse for the North West Anglia NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital, said: “When our trust took over the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital in April 2017, Michael Brown was on sick leave. As soon as we were made aware of the charges levelled against him, he was suspended to ensure he was unable to return to duty. Normal policies regarding pay entitlement were followed.
“We also referred the issue to the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which placed an interim suspension order on his registration to prevent him from undertaking any nursing duties in the future. Now that Michael Brown has been sentenced, the trust has begun disciplinary procedures.”
The statement also made clear that the Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which was running the hospital when the National Crime Agency announced that Brown was under investigation, put him on restricted duties.
“This ensured he had no contact with children, nor worked alone while there were children in the outpatient department in which he worked,” said Jo Bennis.
“The trust’s lead nurse for safeguarding children worked with the officers leading the investigation to ensure there were no risks to patients, nor visitors to the clinics that Michael Brown worked in while under initial investigation.”
Hinchingbrooke Hospital nurse is jailed after admitting he watch live internet broadcast of child being raped 06 February 2018 Debbie Davies