PETALING JAYA: British paedophile Richard Huckle was exposed by Australian police who stumbled across his online activity during an investigation into other suspects.
Police in Australia and Europe were aware of a paedophile site called the Love Zone hidden in the so-called dark web, protected by passwords, encryption and specialist software.
Users were totally anonymous.
The images and videos showed the abuse of babies and very young children.
Members had to post increasingly graphic material to remain on the site.
There were tens of thousands of accounts.
BBC News reported that officers with Task Force Argos in Australia knew the creator of the site used an unusual greeting – the word “hiyas”.
After exhaustively trawling chatrooms and forums in the open internet, they found a Facebook page of a man who used the same greeting.
Although the Facebook page was fake, they identified a picture of a vehicle and that led them to a man called Shannon McCoole – a childcare worker in Adelaide.
When officers caught him, McCoole was actually online running the site.
They took photographs of McCoole’s hands and a freckle on his finger somehow matched the one in the images of abuse.
The officers then assumed McCoole’s identity and took over the running of the site. McCoole was given a 35-year prison sentence last year.
The officers found that one user stood out – Huckle – given the number of children he had access to and his aggressive attitude.
They identified who he was and where he lived based on information posted on social media and other sites.
Britain’s National Crime Agency was tipped off about Huckle returning home to the UK for the Christmas holidays in 2014.
As he landed at Gatwick airport Huckle was met by officers from the NCA’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.
On his computer and encrypted drives they found tens of thousands of obscene images and videos.