January 2022

Pembrokeshire paedophile Martyn Armstrong jailed for life

A child rapist has been jailed for life after software reversed a distortion technique he used to mask his identity.

Martyn Armstrong, 50, of Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire, admitted to multiple offences, including 20 counts of raping a child under 13.

Armstrong posted a distorted video of him raping a young child on the dark web but the National Crime Agency was able to identify him using new software.

He was sentenced to life with a 14-year minimum term at Cardiff Crown Court.

Armstrong, formerly of Derbyshire, also admitted sexual assault, causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and indecent images of children (IIOC) offences.

The court heard how the 50-year-old raped and sexually assaulted two children. He took photographs of the attacks and took indecent images of another child.

One of the victims described him as a “monster”.

Armstrong was arrested in July 2022 after the National Crime Agency (NCA) used software to identify him from images of the abuse he posted on the internet.

The judge, Tracey Lloyd-Clarke, said the offending was “shocking” with a “longstanding and continuing interest in sexual abuse of the very worst kind”.

She added Armstrong did “not have the proper understanding of the impact of the offending” and “paedophiles around the world continue to view the images for their sexual gratification”.

Armstrong admitted multiple offences of the rape of a child under the age of 13 and sexual assault as well as making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children at hearings in September and November 2022.

The images were distributed to paedophiles around the world on the dark web.

Law enforcement agencies worldwide were aware of the series of 200 images and one video for many years, but could not identify the offender or victims.

The victims faces were visible in the images, but Armstrong had obscured his own identity by distorting and pixelating it.

Prosecutor Roger Griffiths told the court Armstrong’s face had been “obscured by zig zag distortion”.

One of the victims was as young as one when the abuse took place. None of the victims were aware of what had happened to them until made aware by the NCA.

The software developed by the NCA allowed them to reverse the distortion of his face in the abuse images and as a result Mr Griffiths said “a Facebook profile of Martyn Armstrong was identified which had a strong similarity to the image of the offender”.

It was the first time this technology had been resulted in a successful prosecution anywhere in the world, the NCA said.

The NCA worked with law enforcement agencies in Australia, Italy and France in order to bring Armstrong to justice. An officer in France was able to identify the precise beach location in Wales where some of the images had been taken.

After Armstrong was arrested, a search of his home found a number of devices, including one of two cameras he used in 2010 to take indecent images.

About 4,000 indecent images were found in total.

Among the images on his devices were images of a child being changed on a beach. Armstrong said he didn’t recognise the photos but did not deny taking them. He told officers he had taken pictures of children on beaches, telling them: “I’ve always got a camera on me”.

Mr Griffiths added some of the images were “particularly distressing” and were still being shared online because they could not be taken down from all sites. He said that one set of the images had featured in more than 500 UK court cases.

Sentencing Armstrong to life in prison with a minimum term of 14 years, Judge Lloyd-Clarke said Armstrong had “an obsession with the sexual abuse of children and babies” over many years.

She said it would be “impossible to determine the time you will remain dangerous”.