Two Sentenced For Historic Child Sex Abuse, Halifax

Thursday May 18, 2017

Painstaking work by Calderdale Police has led to two men being sentenced for historic child abuse dating back over a decade. 

Two men have been sentenced to more than fourteen years for child rape, sexual assault and sexual activity with children, the possession and making of indecent images of children after a meticulous investigation by Calderdale Police, where they pieced back together 300 indecent images from a bag of shredded paper. Andrew Bristow

Michael Peters, age 71, from Halifax and Andrew Bristow, aged 48, from Normanton, both previously from Surrey, were arrested by Calderdale Police in July 2015. This was after a tip off by colleagues from Surrey that a suspect in a local child grooming and sexual offences investigation had sent one text message to Peters of a suspicious nature. 

The newly formed Abusive Images Unit at Calderdale took on the case, after officers from Calderdale CID attended the address to arrest Peters following the intelligence provided by Surrey Police. Whilst searching the property, a series of photographs were recovered depicting the sexual abuse of an unknown female child by an adult male. The male in the offending image was identified as Bristow. 

Michael PetersOfficers recovered a large bag of shredded photographs from Peter's property. These were painstakingly pieced back together, creating over 300 images - a large volume of which were indecent images of children of the most serious level. Several depicted adult males committing sexual offences against a child and this included Peters. Other recovered items were subsequently found to belong to victims from around the country. 

In a lengthy and complex investigation, the team identified a number of children from within West Yorkshire and beyond, all whom had contact with Bristow and Peters. The offending was found to have taken place over a decade ago, between 2004 and 2006. 

Working alongside facial recognition experts based within West Yorkshire, from the images recovered the team were able to confirm the suspects’ identities, but also, crucially the identities of the victims. 

Specially trained Digital Media Investigators, based at Calderdale's Abusive Images Unit worked in collaboration with Greater Manchester Police, to produce the evidence and information needed to link the offences and to make sure that the victims could be appropriately safeguarded. 

This case was the first taken on by the then newly formed Calderdale Abusive Images Unit, and required the team to utilise their specialist and detailed knowledge of cyber-crime and abusive images investigations to bring these offenders to justice on behalf of the victims. Each successive phase of the enquiry identified new lines of enquiry, each requiring detailed and thorough investigation and revealing further abuse committed by Peters and Bristow. 

On the 23rd March 2017 at Bradford Crown Court, Bristow pleaded guilty to two counts of rape against a female under the age of 13 years old, with Peters pleading guilty to taking indecent images of the same victim and being in possession of a large number of indecent images of the most serious nature. Bristow and Peters also pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual touching of a child against two individual children. 

The pair were sentenced on 18th May 2017. Bristow was sentenced to eight and a half years, Peters was sentenced to six years. They will both be registered on the sex offenders register and be subject to lifetime sexual harm prevention orders. 

Detective Inspector Allan Raw, of Calderdale District Police’s Safeguarding Department, said, "West Yorkshire Police are committed to investigating all reports of sexual abuse, whether they have occurred historically or more recently. 

"We are dedicated in our pursuit of protecting the most vulnerable and supporting those who have shown the immense courage in coming forward. We have specialist units of officers who not only investigate all reports of this matter but proactively seek to prosecute those who prey on the young and vulnerable. 

"This particular investigation demonstrates the lengths that West Yorkshire Police and colleagues in other Forces, will go to, to ensure the safeguarding of our most vulnerable members of society. This case shows that we are committed to seeking justice for victims, will strive to obtain all available evidence, to ensure a positive outcome, not only for the victims in this case but for our communities. 

"We would like to acknowledge the tremendous bravery and courage of those victim who have provided their evidence in this case and hope that the result obtained today, can assist them in moving on with their lives.  

"This investigation has been carried out jointly with other Forces from around the UK and due to our close working relationship and innovative methods of investigation, we have ensured that two dangerous offenders have been brought to justice. 

"There may still be victims in both the West Yorkshire and Surrey areas, who Peters and Bristow sexually abused, but who we have not identified. I would encourage those victims to speak to the police by contacting their local Police Force via the non-emergency telephone number 101. Their allegations will be treated sensitively and seriously." 

Detective Inspector Matthew Chapman from Surrey Police said: "We got in touch with West Yorkshire Police during an investigation into a number of child grooming and sexual offences. As a result of that investigation Wayne Collins of Egham is serving an 11 year prison sentence following his conviction at Guildford Crown Court. During our investigation we found a number of messages between him and Michael Peters. We immediately alerted our colleagues at West Yorkshire who duly arrested Peters and searched his home address. This initiated the lengthy and complex investigation run by Calderdale Police and the successful prosecution of Peters and Andrew Bristow. This case demonstrates both forces joint working and relentless pursuit of those who seek to target our communities."

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