One of the most prolific paedophiles ever to have been brought before a UK court is being sentenced today.

Richard Huckle, 30, admitted an unprecedented number of offences against children aged between six months and 12 years from 2006 to 2014.

The freelance photographer used religion and an English teaching qualification to gain access to children in an impoverished community in Malaysia.

He raped babies, toddlers and children – subjecting some to abuse over a seven-year period – and shared videos and pictures with fellow paedophiles on the dark web.

Richard Huckle

Huckle with a young boy – not one of those he was accused of abusing

Details of the abuse can only now be reported because investigators had sought a court order allowing time to make sure the victims were safe from other online sexual predators.

Grammar school educated Huckle was arrested at Gatwick Airport in 2014 after Australian authorities alerted the National Crime Agency to his crimes.

Richard Huckle

 

Investigators found more than 20,000 abuse images on his computer, along with a handbook he wrote advising other paedophiles on how to abuse children and get away with it.

Huckle’s crimes were so serious that prosecutors planned three separate Old Bailey trials as they felt one jury could not cope with viewing all the videos and photographs of abuse.

In January, Huckle pleaded not guilty to all 91 charges, but ahead of his trial in April, he gradually admitted 71 of the offences over the course of five more hearings.

At his first plea hearing at the Old Bailey, it took more than an hour to read out all the charges.

According to one charge, Huckle had bragged: “I’d hit the jackpot, a 3yo girl as loyal to me as my dog and nobody seemed to care.”

Twenty-two of the offences he pleaded guilty to carry discretionary life sentences and 18 of these are multiple incident counts.

At an earlier hearing, Judge Peter Rook QC said: “You have pleaded guilty to 71 counts.

“As you know these amount to sexual offending of the utmost gravity and as a result I am considering life sentences in your case.”

He is thought to be only the third British man convicted under a recent law that allows the UK prosecution of “sex tourists”.

The sentencing is expected to last until Friday.