Denham and Stansfield
Denham and Stansfield were part of a child sex abuse ring that planned to abuse a baby that had not yet been bornNCA

Depraved paedophiles John Denham and Matthew Stansfield have been found guilty at Bristol Crown Court of plotting horrendous sex crimes against children under the age of five.

Denham, formally known as Benjamin Harrop, 49, was found guilty of conspiracy to sexually assault a child under 13 and Stansfield, 34, was convicted of two charges of conspiracy to rape a child under 13.

They were part of a sickening paedophile ring that targeted a baby, a toddler and a pre-school child.

In one instance the gang started planning abusing a baby before it was even born in ways that was to "difficult to put into words," said the National Crime Agency (NCA).

In total seven men were convicted of more than 30 child sexual abuse offences, including the rape of a child under the age of 13, following an investigation led by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Child sex abuse ring
John Denham, Matthew Lisk, Adam Toms, Christopher Knight, David Harsley, Matthew Stansfield, Robin HollysonNCA

Adam Toms, 33 from Somerset, Christopher Knight, 35, from Manchester, Robin Hollyson, 30 from Bedfordshire, David Harsley, 51, from Hull and Matthew Lisk, 32, from East Sussex, all pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing.

They shared indecent images and videos of children being abused, communicating via social networking forums.

Evidence showed the group's victims were mainly babies and infants, with at least one victim given stupefying drugs to enable offenders to carry out sexual abuse.

Chat logs showed some members offered advice and guidance to others regarding how much drug to administer to a child, depending on their age.

They would also arrange to meet up in person - often travelling long distances - when access to children was guaranteed.

If only one member would have access to a victim, the abuse would be live-streamed to the group. Multiple online identities were used and members tried recruiting like-minded individuals to join the group.

To date, 11 people have been arrested in the UK, three victims have been identified and 24 children safeguarded. Over 100 intelligence packages have been shared with international law enforcement agencies in every continent.

The men have been convicted of offences including the rape of a child under the age of 13, conspiracy to rape a child under the age of 13, sexual assault on a child under 13, sexual activity with a child under the age of 13, administering a substance with intent, making and possessing indecent images of children (IIOC) and breaching a Sex Offender Prevention Order (SOPO).

The victims identified so far were under the age of five at the time the offences were committed.

Three of the men – Hollyson, Stansfield and Harsley – are Registered Sex Offenders (RSO's) after being convicted previously of child sexual abuse image offences.

Graham Gardner, Deputy Director of Investigations at the National Crime Agency said: "We rarely see criminal behaviour involving the sexual abuse of children to this degree. This is serious organised crime as its worst and is precisely the type of work the National Crime Agency will be focusing on.

"The men involved in this group actively targeted families to facilitate the sexual abuse of their children, toddlers and babies. The depravity of these men appeared to know no bounds and is without doubt as vile as we have seen."

Greg McGill, Head of the Crown Prosecution Service Organised Crime Division, added it was "difficult to find the words to describe the activities of these men, and the harm that they have done."