Paedophile mum jailed for abusing a two-year-old boy

Letter of the day

Portsmouth mum Tracy Lyons was today starting a four-year jail term for her part in a national paedophile ring that met on Facebook.

Lyons was yesterday sentenced at Bristol Crown Court after admitting filming herself abusing a two-year-old boy and sending the video and pictures on to Colin Blanchard - the man at the centre of the plot.

When she is released she will spend three years on licence.

Mr Justice John Royce said the case had caused widespread revulsion.

'It is beyond the ken of decent people how any of you could stoop as disgustingly low as you did,' he said.

The mum-of-nine, whose head was bowed throughout the hearing, pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault on a child, one of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and three of distributing indecent photographs of children.

Lyons, of Hewett Road, North End, had met the married IT consultant Blanchard, who she referred to as 'daddy', on Facebook and had an online relationship with him, although they never met in person.

Her crimes were uncovered after Blanchard gave her name up during his police interview.

Mr Justice Royce added: 'There came a time when Blanchard, according to you, asked you to photograph yourself sexually assaulting a child.

'You had a choice. You chose to do what he asked. You did so knowing of his deep interest in child sex abuse.'

Stephen Smyth, defending, said Lyons was a 'vulnerable, lonely and dim woman' who had been controlled by Blanchard, 40.

'She began to feel a little neglected and alas like many in that position she turned to the internet,' he said.

'She met Colin Blanchard on Facebook.

She is persuaded on that one day to do what she did.

'Such was the almost svengali like hold that Mr Blanchard had over her that it overode her natural conscience.'

Blanchard and another woman, Tracy Dawber, were also jailed yesterday.

The judge described Blanchard as the hub of the paedophile group.

'You are warped, wicked, dangerous and manipulative,' he said.

Dawber, 44, of Southport, Merseyside, who was found guilty of a sexual assault on a five-month-old baby girl and five charges of distributing indecent images of a child, was sentenced to four years in jail.

Blanchard, from Rochdale, who had pleaded guilty to 17 offences relating to indecent images of children and two sexual assaults on children, was jailed indefinitely and will not be eligible for parole for at least nine years.

Two other women who were also involved in the ring - Plymouth nursery worker Vanessa George, 39, and former prostitute Angela Allen, also 39, and from Nottingham - are already behind bars.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Claire Vincent, from Hampshire Constabulary's Specialist Investigations department, said: 'Although Lyons was part of Colin Blanchard's network of online friends, she was fully responsible for her own actions. It is important to remember that the offences she committed were against the most vulnerable members of our society.'

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The news of Tracy Lyons' arrest came as a shock to those who knew her.

Izzies Nursery in Wymering Road, North End, moved to reassure worried parents that she had only worked two afternoons, on July 17 and July 22, in 2008.

It wrote to parents to say Lyons had no physical contact with any child and had not been left unsupervised.

Lyons wasdescribed as a Pied Piper-like figure popular with teachers, parents and children alike. She was said to have regularly had youngsters round to play at her house.

Samantha Gibbs, 26, a former neighbour of Lyons, said: 'She came across as a really nice person, she loved children and loved babies.

'She used to sit in the playground and talk to the other parents. She just came across as an ordinary mum like the rest of us. Everyone knew her very well, she was one of those lovely, lively, bubbly people, you couldn't miss her.'

Carmelena Saunders, 31, who lives near Lyons' mother, in North End, said: 'She was around kids all the time.'

Friends of Lyons' husband, bus driver Davy Lyons, said he had been devastated by the bombshell.

TIMELINE

August 2008: Colin Blanchard takes photos of Tracy Dawber abusing a child.

October 2008: Tracy Lyons commits the abuse and sends it to Blanchard.

December 2008: Colin Blanchard, Angela Allen and Vanessa George meet on Facebook.

June 2009: Blanchard is arrested after policeseize two laptops anda mobilephone following a tip-off from a business associate. Vanessa George and Angela Allen are arrested days later.

October 2009: Vanessa George, Angela Allen and Colin Blanchard plead guilty to their part.

October 2009: Tracy Lyons is arrested.

November 2009: Tracy Dawber is arrested.

December 2009: Vanessa George and Angela Allen are jailed for their part in the paedophile ring.

March 2010: Tracy Lyons pleads guilty.

October 2010: Tracy Dawber is found guilty after a trial.

January 2011: Lyons, Blanchard and Dawber are sentenced.