Online predator who blackmailed women into carrying out acts of child abuse jailed

An online predator who blackmailed dozens of women around the world into performing sexual and degrading acts, including child abuse, has been jailed for 24 years.

Anthony Burns, originally from Lowestoft in Suffolk, used multiple online identities when engaging with the women on the internet.

On one occasion he posed as the head of a model agency searching for clients, while on another he pretended to be an officer with the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

Once the 39-year-old had gained the trust of his victims he would move the conversation over to WhatsApp.

The women 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 had received enough explicit material, Burns threatened to expose the images to their families and friends unless they sent more increasingly depraved photographs and videos.

Burns had 39 victims – ranging in age from eight to 54 – made up of women he blackmailed and children who were subsequently abused.

One of the victims was an eight-year-old girl in the US, who was abused by her mother following sustained coercion by Burns. The FBI helped officers track down his victims in the US.

Most of his other victims lived in England but he also targeted people in the Channel Islands and Australia.

‘Very young children severely traumatised by remorseless cruelty’

The UK’s NCA arrested Burns in February 2019.

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.”

Burns worked with, and has been described as a “pupil” of, the notorious online child sex offender Adbul Elahi, who was jailed for 32 years in December 2021 after targeting 2,000 people globally to commit sadistic online abuse.

After his arrest, Burns was charged with 46 counts – including blackmail, attempted 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, malicious communications offences and failure to comply with notification requirements.

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

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