Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry
Paedophile David Wilson has been jailed for 25 years for 96 sex abuse offences against 52 boys aged between four and 14.
Wilson, who posed as girls online to get young boys to send him indecent images of themselves and of other children, is considered one of Britain's most prolific paedophiles.
In November, it took a court clerk around 30 minutes to read all of the charges out to the 36-year-old and for him to enter guilty pleas to each in turn. Wilson, of Kirstead, King's Lynn, in Norfolk, would pose as a teenage girl online to build trust with his victims.
Using unregistered phones, he sent sexual images of young women from the internet in exchange for the boys sending him videos and images of themselves.
Once he obtained the explicit images, he would use them to blackmail them into sending him more extreme footage of themselves – and in some cases, of them abusing younger siblings or friends.
On some occasions, he then sent those images to friends of the victims.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) say that there is evidence that suggests Wilson had as many as five hundred victims and that he'd contacted at least 5,000 children in the UK and abroad.
They said that he is the most prolific paedophile that they have ever investigated and that several of his victims had suffered so much by his actions that they talked about ending their lives.
The offences were committed between May 2016 and April 2020.
One victim opens up on how he felt 'suicidal' from Wilson's abuse
"At 12 years of age, being abused, blackmailed, and made to feel suicidal... is something no 12-year-old should have to go through," one of his victims, kept anonymous for legal reasons, said. "It's had a detrimental effect on my life, I'm so happy that I did find the courage to tell my parents. "It was the feeling between being trapped between David Wilson's abuse and threats or choosing to tell my parents."
He added: "These were the darkest times, really, really affecting me. I felt suicidal at times.
"I really didn't want tell my parents because I thought they'd be angry at me and I thought they wouldn't help.
"But I'm so glad I did."
The moment David Wilson was arrested in a police raid
Wilson would not have been brought to justice without evidence from Facebook, according to the NCA.
Rob Jones, the agency’s director of threat leadership, said the social media giant’s proposed move to an end-to-end encryption privacy model “poses an existential threat to child protection” online.
A Facebook spokesman said: “Child exploitation and grooming have no place on our platforms.”
Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, a UK charity involved in finding and removing images and videos of child sexual abuse from the internet, said: “This kind of offending is becoming a marked threat to children and, sadly, we are seeing more and more material being shared online which children have been tricked, bullied, coerced, or blackmailed into making themselves.
“We know there are whole communities of predators out there, and that they are looking to contact children and abuse them from afar, often in the apparent safety of their own bedrooms.
“Parents need to have frank discussions with their children, and let them know they can go to them if they see anything or are approached by someone online.”