Child rapist finally sentenced to life in prison after tech breakthrough

The man was caught after National Crime Agency investigators reversed distortion filters used to disguise his face

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A man who raped and sexually assaulted young children over a six year period and posted images of the abuse to other paedophiles on the dark web, has been jailed for life.

Martyn Armstrong, from Pembrokeshire, was identified after specialist National Crime Agency investigators reversed distortion filters he used to disguise his face in the images while carrying out the abuse from 2005 to 2011.

The 50-year-old was stopped and arrested by South Wales Police officers while driving on the M4 in July last year.

Law enforcement agencies across the world had been trying to identify the man in the abuse material after he posted the images in 2010.

Martyn Armstrong, from Pembrokeshire, was sentenced today
Martyn Armstrong, from Pembrokeshire, was sentenced today

The case remained unsolved until 2022, when NCA investigators created a new programme which finally disabled the image distortion technique. This revealed the face of the offender but his identity, and that of his victim, was still unknown.

Officers were able to call on research carried out by a French investigator who had managed to identify a beach which had been seen in some images linked to Armsrong.

After conducting significant research on the geology of the landscape, he established that rocks on the beach in the photo must either be in Ireland or Wales. He compared them to images of over 60 beaches before striking an exact match on the Pembrokeshire coast in Wales.

Following his arrest, investigators found a number of devices in Armstrong’s home, including one of the two cameras he used in 2010. This was forensically matched to the camera which took the images.

Armstrong was charged with 20 counts of rape of a child under 13, one count of assault by penetration, three counts of sexual assault, five counts of causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and one count of making and one count of distributing indecent images of children.

He pleaded guilty to these offences at Cardiff Crown Court in September 2022 and subsequently pleaded guilty to further serious charges of sexual offences against children two months later.

Today Armstrong was sentenced to life in prison with no minimum term.

NCA Operations Manager Martin Ludlow said: “It is over 17 years since Armstrong began to abuse these young children. I don’t believe he thought he would ever be caught and that the distortion techniques he used would protect him.

“However, the NCA and our international partners were determined to ensure his evil actions did not go unpunished.

“Our commitment to identifying him was unwavering and ultimately, NCA officers developed a completely new programme which led to his unmasking. Investigators did a remarkable job in piecing together limited information to finally reveal that Armstrong was the person in these images.

“We will continue to work together and do all we can to bring offenders like Armstrong to justice and protect innocent children from child sexual abuse.”

Lucy Dowdall of the CPS said: “The abuse that Armstrong subjected his victims to was horrific. “Despite the passage of time and the steps he had taken to hide his identity, the CPS built a robust case against him resulting in guilty pleas.

“The investigation conducted by the NCA officers was exceptional, and we thank them for their diligent work.

“The CPS are committed to bringing those who sexually abuse children to justice, whenever our legal test is passed, and we will continue to work with our partners in the police to do so.”