Anthony Burns: Predator blackmailer’s victims talk of lives ruined | #childpredator | #onlinepredator | #sextrafficing

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Blackmailer Anthony Burns is being sentenced for abusing women and children online

  • Author, Josh Sandiford
  • Role, BBC News, West Midlands

Victims of a prolific online predator who blackmailed women around the world have faced the perpetrator in court to reveal how their lives were ripped apart.

Anthony Burns has been convicted of controlling and coercing 27 women between 2018 and 2020, including blackmailing them into sexual acts and child abuse.

Investigators believe Burns, formerly of Lowestoft in Suffolk, tried to target 600 people in total, showing remorseless cruelty in the process.

His web of victims included women living in the UK, US and Australia, while the majority were from England.

Eight victims have faced Burns, who is in the dock for a two-day sentencing hearing at Birmingham Crown Court, as they read victim impact statements.

They spoke of their lives being ripped apart, becoming depressed having been blackmailed and suffering physical and mental health issues as a result of their abuse.

One victim told the court Burns used versatile methods and various numbers to contact her.

He found her business details, including her home address, on the Companies House website, she told the court.

‘I was terrified’

She was left under the impression the offender would attempt to sexually attack or murder her, she said.

“I believe he was capable of finding out and coming to where I live,” she said.

“I was terrified. I could not stop thinking about it.”

The victim added she turned to comfort eating and and doctors gave her prescription drugs throughout two years of anguish.

“I gained a lot of weight making me further depressed. It caused massive issues to my confidence,” she said.

The victim later told the judge Burns no longer has any control over her.

“I don’t care about him. But I want him to feel the fullest force of the law. He needs to be punished for what he did,” she said

‘Sugar daddy’ websites

Burns’ devices were seized after he was arrested following an investigation which included assistance from the FBI.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) previously said the 39-year-old was a pupil of prolific sexual blackmailer Abdul Elhai, who perpetrated some of the most serious offending it had ever investigated.

Burns, who had previous child abuse convictions, admitted 39 counts and was found guilty at a trial of two counts of causing a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity.

He would meet women on so-called sugar daddy websites or dating sites, using different identifies, phone numbers and profile photos.

The court was previously told he would pose as a modelling agent before making contact with women on WhatsApp and asking them to send sexual photos for cash that was never paid.

He would go on to screen-record video calls, before threatening to share the images with the victims’ loved ones unless they sent increasingly depraved material.

The sentencing continues.

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