August 2023

Depraved nurse kept hoard of sick images and shared obscene stories about children with paedophiles

A depraved female nurse who ran a respiratory ward during the Covid crisis turned to online child sex offences for ‘comfort’ – keeping a hoard of sick child rape images and sharing obscene stories about children being abused has avoided a prison sentence

Rebecca Ruler, 32, kept a hoard of sadistic child sexual abuse images and published sick sexual articles about children and babies for a group of paedophiles, a court has heard.

When Ruler’s crimes came to light, she was struck off the nursing register by the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Preston Crown Court heard that Ruler had been on the frontline of the Covid crisis, working as a ward manager at Royal Bolton Hospital. 

Prosecuting, Peter Barr said: “It was she who initiated the discussions by expressing her sexual interest in children. There was no evidence of coercion.”

Ruler has now been handed a suspended prison sentence

Mr Barr told Preston Crown Court that between April 2021 and April 2022, Ruler downloaded 151 category A child abuse pictures, along with a further 101 at category B and 134 category C images.

She also created five obscene articles into an internet chat with five paedophiles.

When questioned, she claimed the conversation was instigated by a man she was in an online relationship with and she was using the chat to impress him.

Judge Richard Gioserano said: “Seeking comfort from strangers is one thing but she knew these were paedophiles.”

A pre-sentence report stated Ruler, who now works in a supermarket, has “significant remorse for her actions”. “Prior to this she was a woman of exemplary character, working in a job that is known to be very giving through what was and remains to be the most difficult period for the NHS in living memory”, Ms Obrusik said.

Ruler, of Springfield Road, Coppull, pleaded guilty to three counts of making indecent images and five counts of publishing an obscene article.

Sentencing, Judge Gioserano said: “I have asked myself how it is that your thinking became not just distorted but so depraved that you committed these eight offences. I will start by stating the obvious: distorted thinking, no matter how depraved, does not in itself attract a criminal sanction.

“It may of course attract moral outrage but moral outrage is no basis for sentence. You are not being sentenced for distorted thinking or depraved thinking in itself. You are being sentenced for acting on that thinking by downloading indecent images and engaging in messaging about sadistic and sexual abuse of very young children.

“I have assessed the risk that your messages could have depraved and corrupted others that might have read it. It is possible that the recipients could have shared your messages with other paedophiles but that was not your intention. There was no intention that your messaging, as depraved as it was, should go beyond the five people in the chat.

“I am asked to consider whether your work as a nurse on a respiratory ward during Covid played a part. I do not wish to underestimate the emotional and physical impact upon you. It clearly did take its toll, not only on you but on your relationship with your partner. It might have been that that was what led you to seeking comfort from strangers but that is not necessarily uncommon. People in difficult emotional circumstances may take value from anonymous online contact with strangers.

“This is not a court of morals. I am not here to judge that. But you moved from that sort of contact to active criminal contact with paedophiles. Even if the distortion in your thinking could somehow be explained by the emotional toll of your work at the time, I can not see how that can mitigate for your offending.”

He handed Ruler a 12 month sentence, suspended for two years, and ordered her to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work.

She must also complete 35 days of rehabilitation activities including a one-to-one sex offenders course, and has been made subject to a five year sexual harm prevention order and 10 years on the sex offenders’ register.