Clare College is one of Cambridge University's most historic and beautiful colleges – but it has now been thrust into the news for a dark reason.
Alumni of the college Matthew Falder would start his dark descent into online pedophilia and blackmail, while studying in the rarefied confines of the university.
For his entire nine years as a Clare College Student, Falder's perverted crimes spiralled, moving from voyeurism in his halls of residence to blackmailing people into committing depraved sexual and physical acts.
As the geophysicist plunged himself into the depths of the dark web he began to ask victims to commit even more depraved acts – including encouraging the rape of a two-year-old boy.
Falder was eventually convicted of 137 offences, one of the longest for a single defendant.
When did it start?
The first record of the vile crimes began when Falder turned 18 and moved to Cambridge to start his undergraduate degree.
In 2007 Falder started his natural sciences degree at Cambridge University. As a fresh faced 18-year-old he quickly made a close knit group of friends.
But a dark secret was lurking behind the sweet-looking facade. Inside the bathrooms of his halls of residence at Clare College he was hiding cameras so he could intimately observe his new 'friends'.
To torment his victims Falder kept the videos of the women who during sentencing Judge Philip Parker called some of Falder's 'close friends'.
The 27 videos all dating from his time at Cambridge University, ranging from 2007 to 2014, were taken at the Halls of residence and his parents' home and holiday home.
For the next nine years, while at Cambridge, Falder began to grow ever more depraved.
While studying at Clare College Falder's crimes became more horrific.
To his friends he was the 'life and soul of many a party' said Judge Parker at sentencing. He added Falder had a 'dynamic social magnetism'.
A sick and twisted individual lay behind that exuberant exterior.
Beneath it lay someone who had plunged into the depths of the dark web and revelled in the misery of his victims.
Falder was also a member of several "virtual communities" of abusers, under the handles "evilmind", "666devil" and "Inthegarden".
On one such site he became an 'elite member' of online sexual abuse forums, rising through the ranks eventually reaching the level of 'rapist'.
No-one in the real world had any inkling of what horror hid beneath the surface.
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Spiraling further into depravity – the horrific extent of abuse
Falder duped victims, who were advertising for babysitting or dog-walking jobs on online message boards, into providing nude images by posing as a female artist, 'Liz', who wanted to turn them into life drawings.
He told his victims the art would help him combat depression before propositioning them to send naked or partially clothed pictures of themselves in return for cash.
Once he had ensnared them he would convince his victims to reveal intimate personal details, including their sexual history, threatening to send explicit images of them to friends and family if they did not comply.
Falder forced one victim to film herself licking toilet seats, a used tampon and eating dog food, and set up secret cameras in bathrooms – including his parents' Cheshire home – to record women and girls naked, before trading the images online.
Another was blackmailed into eating his faeces and drinking urine, while the 29-year-old also encouraged the rape of a two-year-old boy.
Falder, who treated his victims both as sex objects and as objects of derision, posted on one forum "100 things we want to see at least once".
In remarks in that post, he suggested "a young girl being used as a dartboard", pro production of a video depicting a child's bones being "slowly and deliberately broken", and the abuse of "a paralysed child".
His heinous actions also included vile messages where he encouraged forum users to hand out semen and urine covered sweets to children.
The vile paedophile also forced some of his victims to pose nude or semi-nude and stand with signs or scrawl on their body repulsive terms. One sign read 'I am a sex slave' and others called the victims derogatory terms.
Opening the facts of the case against Falder, prosecutor Ruona Iguyovwe previously told the court that many of the images were then distributed on so-called "hurtcore" websites on the dark web, showing material depicting sexual and physical abuse.
Matthew Falder was jailed for 32 years after admitting a string of 137 offences.
When arrested the 29-year-old called it the "rap sheet from hell."
Here is the full list of offences Falder plead guilty to.
: Arranging or facilitating the sexual exploitation of a child x 1
:: Blackmail x 12
:: Blackmail, conspiracy to x 4
:: Blackmail, encouraging or assisting an offence of blackmail, believing it will be committed x 2
:: Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity x 3
:: Causing or inciting the sexual exploitation of a child x 20
:: Distribute indecent images of a child, conspiracy to x 2
:: Distributing indecent images of children x 12
:: Encouraging or assisting the commission of offences of taking, making or distributing indecent images x 6
:: Forced or compulsory labour x 1
:: Fraud by representation x 23
:: Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence of blackmail x 1
:: Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence of child exploitation x 1
:: Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence of rape x 3
:: Intentionally encouraging or assisting of offence of sexual activity with a child family member x 1
:: Make indecent images of child, conspiracy to x 2
:: Making indecent images of children x 7
:: Malicious communication x 5
:: Participating in the activities of an organised crime group x 3
:: Possession of a paedophile manual x 2
:: Possession of extreme pornography x 1
:: Possession of indecent images of children x 1
:: Possession of indecent images with a view to their distribution x 2
:: Publishing an advertisement about distribution of indecent images x 1
:: Publishing an obscene article x 3
:: Sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety x 5
:: Sending electronic communication with intent to cause distress, conspiracy to x 3
A further 51 offences will lie on file as part of Falder's plea agreement.
How was he caught?
Falder was arrested in Birmingham, where he moved in 2016 to become a university lecturer and researcher.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), who led the charge on identifying, arresting and convicting Falder for his horrific crimes, called his sentencing a 'watershed moment'.
Falder, who was described in court as an IT whizz, managed to hide his identity for four years after initially being discovered as an anonymous online predator in 2012.
The NCA, working with UK police forces, Government listening post GCHQ, US Homeland Security, the Australian Federal Police and Europol, needed up to 100 investigators to find, track and detain Falder.
Falder's home was raided by police and all his computers and other electronics showed he had hundreds of indecent images and abusive videos stored which he had used to blackmail his victims.
The investigation continued and in April 2015, the NCA began investigating a forum user called ‘666devil’, who was using a picture of a young girl as his avatar, claiming she was his daughter.
In one post he described his plan to torture her during what he dubbed ‘hell week’.
He requested ideas from other forum members about what he could do to hurt and abuse her.
It was soon established that ‘666devil’ also used the online name ‘evilmind’.
The NCA conducted an extensive intelligence operation to identify the child used as the suspect’s avatar.
The investigation established that ‘evilmind’, ‘666devil’ and ‘Inthegarden’ were the same person, and that he had approached more than 300 individuals worldwide.
NCA’s in-house child protection advisors reviewed each individual to plan safeguarding work.
Investigators discovered Falder was using online webmail and within these accounts were the original pictures of the ‘daughter’.
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In August 2015, the girl was identified and safeguarded.
Investigators were satisfied that the suspect did not have access to her. But still no intelligence from the accounts was able to identify the offender.
Analysis of this material also identified US victims.
The NCA then set up the international taskforce to share and develop intelligence against the suspect and online anonymity in general.
This partnership produced a breakthrough in early 2017 and Falder was linked to the offending.
This culminated in his arrest on June 21 at Birmingham University where he worked as a postdoctoral researcher.
Falder was questioned over three days but answered no comment.
He eventually provided two prepared statements, and in one he admitted that he controlled the ‘evilmind’ account.
Matt Sutton, NCA senior investigating officer, said: “In more than 30 years of law enforcement I’ve never come across an offender whose sole motivation was to inflict such profound anguish and pain. Matthew Falder revelled in it.
“I’ve also never known such an extremely complex investigation with an offender who was technologically savvy and able to stay hidden in the darkest recesses of the dark web.
“This investigation represents a watershed moment.
“Falder is not alone so we will continue to develop and deliver our capabilities nationally for the whole law enforcement system to stop offenders like him from wrecking innocent lives.
“I commend the victims for their bravery and I urge anyone who is being abused online to report it. There is help available.”
So traumatised were some of Falder's victims, several reported being on the brink of committing suicide.
Horrified and ashamed by what Falder made them do, they felt they could not go on.
Victims told of how they had been 'sucked in' by Falder, leading them to send him the degrading images in the first place.
One young victim, who was just a schoolgirl when first contacted by Falder, said she was now terrified to meet new people.
She said: "I'll always be scared of meeting new people."
She also said all her relationships "had broken down" as a result of the abuse she suffered.
Judge Parker QC detailed the horrendous level of suffering victims continued to endure as he passed sentence.
He said: "I have heard of drugs overdoses, self harming, going to hospital, humiliation, feeling dirty, breakdowns of relationships with parents and boyfriends, a girl in foster care at the time, fear of who Liz was, fear she or he may turn up at the home address, total distrust in other persons, and consequent lack of true educational achievement. Two mothers sick that they passed on images of their daughters and the use to which they were put. One of them subsequently over protective of her daughter. The damage is ongoing for these individuals. It will never end, knowing that the abuse caused by you still exists in other unknown persons’ computer."
'No ounce of sympathy'
Ruona Iguyovwe, senior prosecutor with international justice and organised crime division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “He showed himself to be very calculating, he was highly manipulative. He had no shred of sympathy for any victim.
“Three of the victims in this case attempted suicide, at least three that we know of. And in one case that person attempted suicide twice.
“But when speaking to him and victims raised the possibility that they were contemplating taking their own life because of the actions he directed towards them, he showed no ounce of sympathy.
“His reaction would usually be to reinforce his demands.”
She added: “In one case, one victim said ‘I’m thinking of ending it all so that this can stop’ and he said to that victim ‘Well, you might end it all but that would not mean that your images don’t get circulated, your images will still be circulated to your family, and it will still be published online so what good is that going to be to you? You have no choice’.
“’Your choice is either complete destruction or being a slave’.
“And so he was very, very cold. He absolutely showed no respect, no regard.
“He wrecked their lives.”
'Warped and sadistic'
Sentencing "warped and sadistic" Falder for "a tale of ever-increasing depravity", Judge Philip Parker QC said: "As for your equally extraordinary sexual offending – no-one who knew you, above ground, had an inkling of what you were doing below the surface."
Branding him an "internet highwayman" who targeted 46 victims, he added: "You wanted to assume total control over your victims.
"Your behaviour was cunning, persistent, manipulative and cruel."
What happens to Falder now?
Now officially one of Britain's most prolific paedophiles Falder has been jailed for 32 years.
He was also given an extended licence term of six years as well as a sexual harm prevention order.
Despite his vile list of crimes, Falder's long-term girlfriend is said to be "standing by" him, according to his barrister, and the judge said his parents would support him "on release" – though he would not be eligible for parole until he was 50.
Cambridge University confirmed they were looking into stripping Falder of his three degrees: undergraduate, masters and PhD, following the horrendous revelations.
If successful this will be one of the only times the University has actively taken away any degree in its 800-year history.