A trio of child abusers who photographed themselves subjecting children to a series of horrific sexual abuse have been jailed for a total of 45 years.

Matthew David Thatcher and his half-sister Emily Thomson targeted three children under 16 in their sustained catalogue of abuse.

During a court hearing it was stated by Thomson's defence that she was "blinded with her infatuation" of Thatcher, that she was in "love" with him, and "did not view him as a relative".

It was stated that Thomson, 18, helped Thomson, 26, rape and assault the youngsters taking photos of themselves sexually abusing the children and discussing their fantasies in sick messages.

They appeared at Cardiff Crown Court alongside another woman, Mandy Wright, 28, where they admitted to 36 counts relating to the sexual abuse of the three children under the age of 16.

The abuse came to light when Thatcher attempted to meet a 14-year-old girl he had spoken to "sexually" over Facebook and when he arrived the woman he was meeting called police.

In the subsequent investigation officers found hundreds of images of the trio sexually abusing children including the most extreme class of abuse, Category A, which includes images of rape and torture.

Judge Eleri Rees said according to The Sun: "The images and messages showed a careless disregard for the welfare of the children."

The court heard that a medical examination of one of the young children showed signs of "chronic sexual abuse".

Rees added of Thatcher: "He descended into the darkest of places. He discovered that he was capable of doing the most dreadful things.

"He was caught up in something that he found very difficult to get out of. It was a dreadful thing that was taking place."

Thatcher was charged with 15 offences, including rape and sexual assault of a child and sentenced to 26 years.

Thomson was charged with 16 counts including sexual assault and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and sentenced to 12 years.

Wright was sentenced to seven years for five offences including having images of the abuse. The court also imposed sexual harm prevention orders on all three of the defendants.