LONDON (AP) — A British court on Friday sentenced seven men to prison for raping and sexually abusing babies and young children and sharing the abuse online through pictures and live videos.
The men, who lived across Britain, preyed on the families of children to gain access to them. They were convicted of 29 child sex abuse offenses, including multiple rape of a child under 13, conspiracy to rape, sexual assault, and making and showing indecent images of children.
Handing down the sentences at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Julian Lambert said the men had engaged in "some of the most depraved and grossly deviant behavior imaginable."
"Your thoughts and deeds are beyond human instinct and reason, and are evil beyond rational understanding," Lambert said.
The men, aged 31 to 51, were handed prison sentences of two to 24 years.
The National Crime Agency began investigating in September 2014 when one of the men admitted to police that he had sexually abused a child under 5 years old. The probe was then expanded and identified other offenders in the group.
The agency said one of the men "groomed" a pregnant mother and her partner in order to win their trust and gain access to their child once it was born. At least one victim was given drugs to enable the men to carry out abuse.
Authorities identified and safeguarded three victims — a baby, a toddler and a pre-school age child.