A convicted online child sex offender and his partner have been found guilty of sexually abusing two boys and an unknown male.

Richard Townsend custody shotIn March 2018 Richard Townsend, 57, was given a two-year jail sentence suspended for two years after admitting encouraging the distribution of indecent images and making indecent images of children.

A National Crime Agency investigation proved Townsend used a child sex offenders’ online conferencing room and had 158 indecent images of children (IIOC), 38 at the worst category, on his electronic devices.

NCA officers launched a parallel investigation after uncovering a home-made video believed to be shot by Townsend, an accountant, of his partner Mark Metcalfe, 56, sexually abusing an unknown male who an expert witness said was 15 at most.

After Townsend was charged in the first investigation into his online offending, two victims came forward to report the non-recent abuse.

Today at Southampton Crown Court, Townsend and Metcalfe, both of Copsewood Road, Southampton, were convicted of 14 charges and three charges respectively. The indictment covers the years 1996 to 2006. It is believed each boy was abused for several years; one from age 11 to 15, the other age 13 to 16.

After a three-week trial, Townsend was convicted of counts including rape, indecent assault, indecency with a child and assault by penetration.

Mark Metcalfe custody shotMetcalfe was convicted of two sexual assaults and one indecent assault.

The pair will be sentenced on Thursday.

Also, during the initial investigation, NCA officers discovered online chat records in which Townsend told someone he was sexually abusing a boy.

When asked: “Do u get 2 see him a lot?”

He replied: “Luck, patience n planning :)”

NCA operations manager Graham Ellis said: “This is a deeply harrowing case.

“It takes immense courage to come forward, and the victims in this case have been incredibly brave in doing so.

“The NCA and our law enforcement partners are relentless in our pursuit of child sex offenders whose actions wreck so many lives.

“We have no greater priority than protecting children from sexual abuse.”

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation runs the Stop It Now! helpline, which offers confidential advice to anyone concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.

If you are concerned a crime has been committed against a child contact your local police. For advice on child safety visit Thinkuknow.co.uk.

10 December 2019