The unmasking of a paedophile ring in 2009 was shocking enough for the British public, but when we found out that four of five child pornography perpetrators were women, and one a nursery worker, shock turned into reviled disbelief. This week Channel 4’s Cutting Edge explored how police came to find out about the activities of Colin Blanchard and his four female assistants, and tried to understand exactly how he was able to persuade lonely women over the internet to help him fulfil his awful fantasies.
The programme was not easy viewing, showing that were it not for a work colleague accidently stumbling on his email account, Blanchard and his ring of abuse may still be continuing today. Having cyber-sex with more than a hundred people at one time, Blanchard trawled sites like Facebook, hunting for forty-something women who craved the love he gave them and often vied for his attention. He expertly tapped into their low self esteem, getting them to do awful things with children in their care and sending him the evidence via email.
It’s apparent from the documentary that most of the women didn’t get any pleasure from the acts, though this does not mean they are not guilty in every sense of the word. Nursery worker Vanessa George exchanged 10,000 messages with Blanchard over six months, taking advantage of the trust bestowed to her by the parents of children in her care; Angela Allen told everyone what a pervert Blanchard was before she was arrested herself; Tracy Lyons virulently denied any wrongdoing, until a video surfaced of what she had done; whilst Tracey Dawber refused to admit to any act of paedophilia when arrested, despite the fact that police were in possession of pictures in police showing her guilt.
It’s obvious that the women were in self denial, not accepting that they had willingly become monsters obsessed with fuelling Blanchard’s sick desires. Taped interviews revealed that each member of the paedophile ring had difficult childhoods, with most being molested themselves when they were younger. Despite these sad tales, there’s simply no sympathy to be had here and none of the women can play the victim. Each knew that what she was doing was wrong and destroyed the lives of everyone they supposedly cared about through their actions..
The documentary gave us an insight into what has happened to the family and friends of each member of the ring, with the business Blanchard worked at now closed and friends of convicted women now receiving threatening texts and calls. Several of the latter have now gone into hiding.
Yet the most worrying aspect to the whole case is the irreparable damage inflicted upon all of these innocent children, with nursery worker George selfishly refusing to give up the names of those she abused. Let’s hope time in prison will help her change her mind…