A couple who raped a little boy then offered his mum £30 afterwards have each been jailed for 16 years.
David Bradbury, 55, and William Gamble, 65, were only caught after they uploaded an image of unrelated child abuse to Facebook.
A judge said today that the duo “acted as a team” and groomed the boy using sweets, toys and games.
A police raid of their home found horrific pictures and video in which Bradbury would encourage Gamble as he abused the child.
One grim clip shows the latter raping the boy, the victim is seen lying naked on a rug in a photo.
Judge Rachel Smith, sentencing today at Liverpool Crown Court, said: “You embarked on a course of grooming and sexually abusive behaviour.”
The court heard the couple “exploited” the boy and groomed him before Gamble would commit “physical acts” of abuse while Bradbury would film them, sometimes engaging in physical abuse.
Judge Smith said Bradbury “commented on the quality of the recording you were making at the time”, which the judge said is “clear evidence of Bradbury encouraging Gamble to continue with the rape”.
Even when Gamble and Bradbury, of St Helens, Merseyside, were told they shouldn’t contact the boy they continued to try.
Judge Smith said: “You persisted with it in the face of involvement of the police.”
Both Gamble and Bradbury were arrested on October 26 last year after the true extent of their crimes had been discovered when an indecent image, not of this child, was uploaded to Facebook.
In total officers found 14 category A images, which are the most serious and include child rape, four category B images and three category C images, on devices found at the men’s home on Pigot Street, many of which were images of the boy.
John Wyn-Williams, prosecuting, said police “seized a notebook which contained a list of about 500 names” which are believed to be Facebook contacts, and the court heard “many are foreign names”.
The judge added that the notebook showed “extensive contact with an all male group on the internet”, adding that there was no evidence of distribution of images of this child.
In an interview the boy, when asked about the abuse, said he “wanted to keep secrets from himself” and “not remember it”.
The court heard in a victim impact statement the child’s father said: “Every single day I worry about the time [his son] will be old enough to fully realise what happened to him. I dread this and know it will be a terrible day.”
Jim Smith, defending Gamble, asked the judge to take into consideration his guilty plea and said Gamble had an “evolving” understanding of the impact of his behaviour on the victim.
Mr Smith explained that it was Gamble’s first period of custody and asked the judge to consider the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on inmates.
The judge, citing a medical report, noted that Gamble “falls in the learning disability range” and is “more vulnerable to manipulation and coercion than others”.
The court heard that speaking in a pre-sentence report, Bradbury had said: “No I don’t want to talk about it, I don’t see how it will help”.
Judge Smith explained that the author of the report said Bradbury had a “failure to take full responsibility for his actions”.
Paul Becker, defending Bradbury, asked the judge to consider his history of anxiety and depression and his guilty pleas.
Gamble and Bradbury both admitted four counts of rape, two sexual assaults and two assaults by penetration, plus the taking of indecent videos associated to each act.
The court heard Gamble had no relevant previous convictions while Bradbury has a conviction for exposure in 1995.
Judge Smith said both Bradbury and Gamble were “dangerous” offenders and jailed each of them for 16 years, with an extended one year on licence.
This type of sentence means they will spend at least two thirds of the custodial term behind bars.
They will then only be released before the end of the sentence if a parole board considers they are no longer a risk.
Detective Constable Craig Doyle of Merseyside Police said: “Both of these men are very dangerous individuals.
“They acted as a team to exploit and carry out this horrendous abuse over a period of time and both men deserve to spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
“Merseyside Police is committed to protecting victims of sexual offences, and anyone who reports an incident to us will be safeguarded and supported throughout the investigation.
“Anyone that has been a victim of a similar sexual offence, is concerned for the safety of someone they know or suspects someone to be engaging in this criminal activity, should come forward and speak to us.
“We have a team of dedicated staff who will expertly and compassionately deal with your reports and we will do everything we can to bring offenders to justice.