A prolific and “evil” child rapist has been jailed for life after being exposed by technology that depixelized an image of his face uncovered in photos he took of himself abusing his victims.
Martyn Armstrong, from Pembrokeshire, documented himself committing “depraved” acts against three children, including a one-year-old victim, and posted the footage on the dark web.
The 50-year-old man was arrested in July of last year after officers developed the tool.
Armstrong pleaded guilty to 41 counts of rape of a child under 13 and related sexual assault involving two victims, and making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children relating to them and a third victim.
Sentencing the defendant to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 14 years, Cardiff Registrar Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said “the nature and depravity of his offense is shocking.”
Roger Griffiths, the prosecutor, told Cardiff Crown Court that Armstrong had taken the images of him abusing children between 2005 and 2007, and between December 16, 2009 and February 6, 2011, and admitted to taking photos. of a third child on a beach in 2010.
He had posted a series of 200 extremely graphic images and a video online under the file name ‘Father Jones’ showing him repeatedly raping his youngest victim.
The series has been known to criminal agencies around the world since 2013 due to the file being shared and downloaded in 18 countries. The folder was still being shared in the UK as of early 2022 across six websites.
Rapist used photoshop to distort himself
Griffiths said Armstrong used Photoshop to place a zig-zag distortion on his image, but did not hide the identities of his victims.
Because his face was blurred, investigators were unable to identify the pedophile for nearly a decade, despite attempts by law enforcement partners from Australia, Italy and France.
Griffiths said one image showed the offender’s face with a zig-zag distortion, and as a result, in July last year, National Crime Agency (NCA) officers were able to depixelate the image of the defendant in that series using their new tool.
The software was developed by NCA officials in the UK and is the first of its kind developed in the world.
Technology is expected to help identify future perpetrators
From the undistorted image, officers were able to identify Armstrong’s Facebook profile, leading to his arrest.
The program is expected to help identify future perpetrators.
NCA’s Martin Ludlow said: “I don’t think he [Armstrong] he thought that he would be caught one day and that the distortion techniques he used would protect him.
“However, the NCA and our international partners were determined to ensure that their wrongdoing did not go unpunished.
“Our commitment to identify him was unwavering, and ultimately NCA officials developed an entirely new program that led to his unmasking.”
Armstrong admitted to distributing photos and naming the series Father Jones.
Adam Sharp, defending, said: “Mr. Armstrong does not want me to try to mitigate the depravity of his actions or the impact they had on his victims.”