UK man jailed for online sex offences against dozens of women and children


Judge sentences Anthony Burns to 24 years in prison, saying he caused ‘immense harm and distress’

Burns was described by the judge as ‘arrogant with a deep-seated cruel streak’.

A prolific online sex offender who blackmailed dozens of women and children across the globe into engaging in depraved sexual acts has been sentenced to 24 years in prison.

Anthony Burns, 39, previously admitted more than 40 charges, including 26 counts of blackmail, six relating to indecent images of children and two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

Passing sentence at Birmingham crown court on Friday, Judge Sarah Buckingham said Burns was “arrogant with a deep-seated cruel streak” and had caused “immense harm and distress”.

“You did not care about the anguish you caused and had complete disregard for your victims’ suffering,” she told Burns, who sat with his head bowed in the dock.

Between May 2018 and March 2021, Burns used “sugar daddy” websites to trap dozens of unsuspecting females, including three under-aged girls, into performing sexual and degrading acts under the threat of blackmail.

He used multiple online personas to ensnare his victims, including posing as the head of a model agency searching for clients.

Burns ordered all of his victims to film themselves carrying out sexual acts in the belief that they would be paid £600, but they never received any money.

After receiving enough explicit material, Burns threatened to expose the pictures to the victims’ families and friends unless they sent more increasingly depraved photographs and videos, including abusing children or performing sexual acts with animals.

In one instance, he blackmailed the mother of an eight-year-old American girl and coerced her into sexually assaulting her daughter on two occasions.

Bethany Raine, specialist prosecutor for the CPS, said Burns “had an obsessive interest in controlling women and children into performing increasingly degrading sexual acts online for his own gratification”.

“Burns belittled and humiliated women,” she said. “They became trapped in a web of fear where their own images became tools of manipulation and extortion, leaving them vulnerable to his depraved demands.”

It is believed that Burns attempted to contact approximately 600 people around the world with the intention of sexually exploiting them and work is ongoing to identify further victims. Most of his victims lived in the UK, but he also targeted people in the US, the Channel Islands and Australia.

Eight women faced Burns in court to read victim impact statements. Some said they had considered taking their own lives or taken overdoses, while others described how they had struggled to breathe due to the “mental torture” perpetrated by Burns. “It’s not an understatement to say that this incident has ruined my life,” one woman said.

The National Crime Agency said Burns was a “pupil” of the online child sex offender Abdul Elahi, one of the most dangerous internet sexual predators they have investigated.

Elahi, who was jailed for 32 years in 2021 after targeting about 2,000 people globally, said he “tutored” Burns on the psychology of blackmail, including providing scripted wording to help gain victims’ trust.

Burns, from Lowestoft in Suffolk, was previously convicted in 2010 for the sexual grooming of a 14-year-old schoolgirl when he was 25 and was also sentenced for a later offence of inciting child prostitution.

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