A judge, who jailed a husband and wife accused of sexually assaulting a 13-month-old, has described the case as “the worse abuse of a baby I have ever seen”.
Judge Sean Enright made the comment as he jailed Michael and Lara Chase to a total of 27 years at Peterborough Crown Court today.
Michael Chase was sentenced to 14 years in prison and Lara Chase was sentenced to 13 years in prison.
Passing the sentences, Judge Enright said: “This is the worst abuse of a baby I have seen and the pictures are quite appalling and horrific to look at.
The feeling of revulsion returns every time those photographs are opened.”
The court heard that the couple photographed the baby being abused before distributing the vile images via the internet messaging service WhatsApp to other people.
The court heard that in one assault security guard Mr Chase masturbated over the child, while Pharmacy assistant Mrs Chase’s hand can be seen in the photo.
In a second assault Mr Chase films himself sexually assaulting the baby in a hot tub in his garden, the court heard.
The couple’s house was raided by police in December 19, 2014.
Various equipment was seized including computers and mobiles phones.
As well as thousands of indecent images which were found on computers and mobiles phones police discovered the terrible extent of abuse the couple had carried out.
They were both arrested on January 29 last year.
Mr Chase made admissions in interview and pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the baby twice and making indecent images of the child on one occasion.
The court heard that officers from the police’s hightech criminal force unit investigated and found thousands of indecent images of children.
These included 4,525 still and moving images that he made and 1,577 indecent images which he was in possession of.
Mr Chase pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault and 10 counts of possessing and making indecent images of children.
He was jailed for eight years for the first sexual assault and six years for the hot tub assault to run consecutively.
For the other counts of possession and making indecent images and films of children he was jailed 12 months for the other counts to run concurrently.
Mrs Chase denied all allegations but was found guilty by a jury on Monday.
She was jailed for nine years for two counts of sexual assault and three years for one count of distributing some of the images her husband took.
Mrs Chase had told the court she was unaware of the abuse but the jury dismissed her claims after it was found that her husband took the images in the same room using a flash.
Prosecuting for the CPS, Nicola Devas: “Both the defendants regularly looked after the child and indeed suggested to the parents that they could do that.
“They trusted the defendants with their child.
“They had no idea at all of the abuse (the child) was suffering.”
In a victim impact statement read out to the court by Ms Devas said: “They are thankful that the child has not been affected although (the child) is now at an age where they pick up the sense of stress and bad atmosphere this has caused.
“The affect is a huge breach of trust and they carry the guilt of letting that child be looked after their abuser forever.
“The abuse has brought a huge strain on their marriage and they are trying to stay strong for the child.
“They are concerned when (the child) is old enough to want to have sleep overs with (the child’s) friends how they are going to trust that to happen.”
The court heard that Mr Chase explained that he was seriously abused sexually as a child which led him to search for indecent images of children.
In mitigation for Mr Chase, Roger Harrison said: “This defendant acknowledges entirely the gravity of his actions and he says he feels sick about what he has done. He wants to apologise for his actions.”
In mitigation for Mrs Chase, Karen Robinson said: “Her life in reality has been destroyed by these proceedings.
“We would ask the court to impose as low a sentence as can be consistent with this court.”
She added: “She poses a low risk of reoffending and would invite the court to consider as short a period as possible.”
Mr Chase was charged for two sexual assaults, one count of making indecent images, four counts of taking indecent images, four counts of possession of indecent images and one count of possession of an extreme pornographic image.
Mrs Chase was convicted of two counts of sexual assault and one count of distributing.
Mr Chase will be subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 20 years and his wife will be subject to the same for 15 years.