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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2007, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Couple guilty of web sex charges
Denise Edwards
Denise Edwards encouraged the paedophile to abuse the child
A couple are facing jail terms after being convicted of having sex in front of a nine-year-old girl who was made to watch them from the USA via video link.

Ronald and Denise Edwards, from Cinderford, Gloucestershire, also encouraged a paedophile in New York to abuse the girl, as they watched online.

The pair were convicted of engaging in sexual activity in front of a child.

Ronald Edwards, 54, pleaded guilty, while his wife, 45, was convicted at a trial at Gloucester Crown Court.

Computer examined

Ronald Edwards admitted the charge at Bristol Crown Court last week.

He also pleaded guilty to causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity with a man and possessing indecent photographs.

Gloucester Crown Court heard how the couple encouraged the American man to perform sexual acts on a nine-year-old girl between July and November 2004.

As far as we are aware it's the first offence of this type that's been investigated
Det Sgt Stephen Vallender

They also performed sex acts in front of the child and the man, from Jamestown, New York state, via a webcam in August 2004.

A jury at Gloucester Crown Court found Denise Edwards guilty of two charges on Thursday.

She was cleared of possessing indecent photographs.

Sentencing was adjourned until 28 June for reports and she was released on bail.

Gloucestershire Constabulary's Child Protection Unit launched an investigation after the FBI executed a warrant at the American home following allegations that the man was sexually abusing the girl.

His computer was examined and the links with the Edwards were uncovered, after which a warrant was executed at their Gloucestershire home.

'Emotional trauma'

Discs and videos with images of children being abused were found by police at the couple's home, along with a webcam.

During the trial, the 57-year-old American man - who was sentenced to 18 years in jail after he admitted raping and abusing his granddaughter - gave evidence for the prosecution via video link from the US.

Det Sgt Stephen Vallender said: "This couple were encouraging someone in America to carry out abuse on their behalf and their actions have contributed to the emotional trauma being suffered by this girl."

He added: "As far as we are aware it's the first offence of this type that's been investigated, where offences have been encouraged to someone in a different country.

"It's also the first time a video link has been used to hear evidence from a convicted sex offender in another country."

The two charges - of encouraging a child to engage in sexual activity and engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child - only became offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

How British legal history was made

Couple in court over sex offences
13 Mar 07 |  Gloucestershire

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