Online serial sex offender who convinced mother to abuse 8-year-old daughter jailed

Online serial sex offender who convinced mother to abuse 8-year-old daughter jailed

WATCH: Sophie Goodall opens up on the horrific abuse she was subjected to

Mark White

By Mark White

Published: 19/01/2024

- 14:15

Updated: 19/01/2024

- 14:19

Burns used dating websites to trap unsuspecting females into performing sexual and degrading acts

A serial sex offender, who used online dating sites to blackmail and abuse dozens of women and children, has been jailed for 24 years.

Anthony Burns, 39, coerced one of his victims to abuse her own eight year old daughter, while he watched over the internet.

Burns, originally from Lowestoft, was an associate of Abdul Elahi, one of the most dangerous internet sexual predators ever investigated by the National Crime Agency.

Elahi was jailed for 32 years in December 2021, after he targeted around 2,000 people globally and subjected them to ‘sadistic online abuse’.

\u200bAnthony Burns

Anthony Burns, 39, has been sentenced to 24 years in prison


Between May 2018 and March 2021, Burns used various dating websites to trap unsuspecting females into performing sexual and degrading acts, under threat of exposing them to friends and family.

Burns attempted to contact more than 600 people around the world with the intention of sexually exploiting them.

Although he was convicted of abusing 39 women and girls, work is also ongoing by international law enforcement agencies to identify any further victims.

According to the National Crime Agency, prolific online predator Abdul Elahi ‘tutored’ Burns on the psychology of blackmail.

That included techniques such as scripted wording, to help gain the trust of victims.

Elahi also provided Burns with instruction on how they would respond to threats and what to say to them.

Prosecutors said Burns used multiple online personas to ensnare his victims, including posing as the head of a modelling agency searching for clients. He also pretended to be an officer from the National Crime Agency on another occasion.

Once Burns had gained the trust of his victims, he moved them to WhatsApp, which is protected by end to end encryption.

Sophie Goodall

One victim, Sophie Goodall, who waived her right to anonymity, said the abuse was 'terrifying' and she tried repeatedly to sever contact with Burns


Authorities say that after his messages had been read, Burns was able to delete them from his and his victims’ phones, removing any visible evidence.

All the victims were ordered to film themselves carrying out sexual acts in the belief they would be paid £600, but the money was never transferred to them.

When he received enough explicit material, Burns threatened to send the pictures to the victims’ families and friends, unless they sent more increasingly depraved photographs and videos.

The severity and nature of the demands became more degrading at the point that Burns had entrapped the victims through the threat of exposure.

One victim, Sophie Goodall, who waived her right to anonymity, said the abuse was “terrifying” and she tried repeatedly to sever contact with Burns.
“When I blocked him, he kept coming back on different numbers.

“Then he sent me screen shots of my parents on Facebook, me on Facebook, other social media of friends and family as well.

“That was really scary, because all he had of me was my first name and the photo of my Whatsapp, I hadn't shared anything with him, we just exchanged flirty chat.

“Then the final time I had a conversation with him, he started sending me really sexual, really disgusting imagery and then accused me of being racist for not reciprocating, so then I called the police.”

Sophie said she was absolutely terrified by Burns.

“It doesn't matter that it was only a short amount of time, it affected me for such a long time, because I had no idea he wasn't in the park outside my house, or at the bus stop, which I could see from my windows. I didn't know what he really looked like. He could be some huge built guy, he could be some nothing.

“He knew everything about me and he knew everyone I knew, that's what I found terrifying.”

Birmingham Crown Court was told of another horrific pattern of abuse around the mother of an American girl, who he coerced into sexually assaulting her daughter on two occasions.

NCA officers arrested Burns in February 2019. His mobile phone and computers were seized and forensically examined.

NCA Operations Manager Robert Slater said: “Anthony Burns showed remorseless cruelty in controlling and coercing his victims, including very young children, into acts which have left them severely traumatised.

“The NCA is determined to identify and pursue the most harmful child sexual offenders, including those who exploit technology to hide their activities and target large numbers of victims, no matter where they are.

“Anyone being pressured or threatened into sending sexual images or videos online, should remove themselves immediately from the conversation, not respond further to any contact, and report the matter to police.”

The FBI provided assistance to the investigation and helped locate victims in the United States.

Robert Slater

NCA Operations Manager Robert Slater said Anthony Burns showed 'remorseless cruelty'


Most of Burns’ other victims lived in England but there were also people in the Channel Islands and Australia.

Burns used a New Zealand-based cloud storage facility to retain all of the illegally gained material, to prevent any of those images being found on his phone.

However, other evidence uncovered by investigators from his phone highlighted the scale of his offending, sometimes blackmailing several victims simultaneously.

Burns was charged with 46 counts including blackmail, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, arranging the commission of a child sex offence, making and distributing indecent images of children, possessing extreme pornography, and malicious communications offences.

He admitted 39 counts and was found guilty of a further two, following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

All 39 of Burns’ victims were aged between 8 and 54.

Burns was previously jailed for 16 months in 2010 for sexual offences against a girl, under 16.

Three years later, he was convicted of breaching his Sexual Offences Order, and served a further two years imprisonment.

Bethany Raine, Specialist Prosecutor at the CPS, said: “Anthony Burns had an obsessive interest in controlling women and children into performing increasingly degrading sexual acts online for his own gratification.

“Burns also had a perverse desire to see others engage in sexual activity with children and animals.

“Burns belittled and humiliated victims. They became trapped in a web of fear where their own images became tools of manipulation and extortion, leaving them vulnerable to his depraved demands.”

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