A 50-year-old man has pleaded guilty to being a “global moderator” on a site on the dark web that hosted “horrific videos, images and discussions” on child abuse, according to the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Brett Saunders, from Swindon, uploaded a total of 115 images and videos of abuse to the site.
The NCA said a further 65,000 files relating to indecent images of children were recovered from his devices.
The hidden site had more than 2,000 members.
Saunders was identified as a moderator with the username “Wetty”, and enforced the site’s rules and provided advice, including on how to evade law enforcement detection.
When NCA officers arrested Saunders at his home in Freshbrook in August 2022, a number of his devices were seized.
The website was also open on his laptop and Saunders was logged into his account.
When interviewed, Saunders – who had previous convictions relating to the sexual exploitation of children – confirmed he held the rank of global moderator and had uploaded indecent images of children to the site.
Following his arrest, Wiltshire Police charged Saunders with breaching the sexual harm prevention order, for when he was released from prison for his previous offending.
He was later jailed for two years and eight months for the breach.
In 2023, he was charged with a further nine counts, including arranging/facilitating the sexual exploitation of a child under 13, participating in the criminal activities of an organised crime group, distributing and making indecent images of children in categories A-C, and possessing a prohibited image of a child.
At Swindon Magistrates Court on Friday, he pleaded guilty to all nine counts. He will be sentenced on 5 March.
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Adam Priestley, NCA branch commander, said: “Brett Saunders was directly responsible for facilitating the sexual abuse of children.
“He became part of a global community of paedophiles to further his own sexual interest in children and his dedication to this platform was such that he was appointed as a moderator.
“It was clear he took this role extremely seriously, investing a significant amount of time to keeping the site up and running, on top of a full-time job.
“The site hosted horrific videos, images and discussions on child abuse, some of which Saunders posted himself or actively encouraged others to do so.
“He did this brazenly, clearly assuming he was protected by the dark web.”