Member of a Rochdale man’s paedophile ring convicted

Date published: 18 October 2010

The final member of a paedophile ring involving a Rochdale man has been convicted.

Tracy Dawber, 44, from Southport, was today, (Monday 18 October 2010), convicted after an eight-day trial of sexual assault, arrangement or commission of a child sex offence and five offences of permitting an indecent image to be taken.

On Friday 18 June 2010 Colin Blanchard, 40, of Yea Fold, Rochdale, pleaded guilty to taking indecent photographs of children, distribution of an indecent image and sexual assault of a child under the age of 13. Blanchard had previously pleaded guilty to 19 other charges on 1 October 2009.

On 5 March 2010 Tracy Lyons, 40, of Portsmouth had earlier pleaded guilty to assault of a child by penetration, sexual assault of a child under 13, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity and three offences of distributing indecent photographs of a child.

A sentencing date for Dawber, Blanchard and Lyons is to be confirmed.

Following Blanchard's arrest in June 2009, officers from Greater Manchester Police's Sexual Crime Unit and High Tec Crime Unit found a short video showing a woman abusing a boy on his computer.

Officers also found Blanchard had sent indecent images taken from the internet to an e-mail address.

The address appeared to belong to a Tracy Lyons in Portsmouth.

Officers moved quickly to send a package of evidence to Hampshire Police who arrested Lyons. She admitted she was the person in the video.

Meanwhile officers examined a mobile phone found in the door compartment of Blanchard's Volvo car. They found a series of images of a woman abusing a baby.

Some of the images also showed a man's hand with a very distinctive watchstrap. Other photos on the phone showed Blanchard wearing a watch with the same strap. One of the indecent images was sent to Vanessa George.

On 13 November 2009, officers visited Blanchard in prison and showed him the new images. He told officers the woman involved was Tracy Dawber, from Southport.

He said he met her on a dating website and he said they had a sexual relationship. This is believed to be the only time Blanchard physically met one of his women co-defendants before coming face-to-face with them in the dock.

Blanchard described Dawber's house and officers passed the information to Merseyside Police who arrested her.

Detective Constable Andy Pilling, of Greater Manchester Police's Sexual Crimes Unit, said: "Blanchard's involvement with Lyons and Dawber shows his willingness to entice like-minded people into his world.

"Blanchard is the common link between all these women. However, no-one should be under the misapprehension that they were somehow forced into abusing children - they willingly took part.

"This brings to an end a nine-month investigation. We could never have guessed when we received that first concerned phone call from his business partner in June 2009 that it would have led to us uncovering such a wide-ranging network.

"Blanchard's offending has affected a lot of people, all over the UK.

"In particular, the impact on the families affected by the Vanessa George case can never be over-estimated.

"This investigation demonstrates that police forces across the UK and the CPS will work together to pursue these criminals and put them before the courts.

"Regardless of force boundaries, we will hunt you down if you abuse children. The internet is no hiding place for you."

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