Article written by Jenny Thornton
In 2017, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service (RCIPS) faced an unprecedented case of possession of child sexual abuse material. The complexity of the case was daunting, but the RCIPS’s partnership with the IWF meant that law enforcement could use the expertise of in-house IWF Analysts to help them assess suspected illegal content, which led to the defendant being successfully prosecuted recently in 2018.
An investigation began back in March 2017, when the RCIPS received a report from a University College of the Cayman Islands student, claiming that her tutor Pierre Pavlov Rameau had engaged in inappropriate conduct when she was underage. The investigation led to the seizure of over 30 devices, including laptops, mobile devices, USB sticks and seven 1TB external hard drives, each of which contained at least 100,000 images, from the home and workplace of the suspect. As a result, Rameau was also arrested on ‘Suspicion of Possession of Child Pornography’.
The volume of the disturbing evidence on the devices was unprecedented. The analysis of 10% of just one hard drive revealed a staggering 1,653 images and videos of child sexual abuse. The sample depicted children of all ages, suffering all kinds of sexual abuses, including the most severe Category A, which includes the rape and sexual torture of children.
During the analysis of the confiscated material, the RCIPS Cyber Unit also identified potential child sexual abuse website addresses on the suspect’s laptop. The IWF was asked to help study these sites. After taking on the challenge, the IWF was able to confirm that seven of the websites were already known to the team, as containing child sexual abuse content, or acting as gateways leading to illegal material.
Further investigations eventually led to the defendant being successfully prosecuted for an ICT offence and 12 counts of possession of child pornography.
Back in 2016, the Cayman Islands were one of thirteen British Overseas Territories to have an Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) Reporting Portal established. A Portal is a quick-to-set-up solution that allows nations to tackle online child sexual abuse images and videos. Portals offer web-users a safe and anonymous way to send reports directly to the IWF’s expert Analysts, who then assess imagery and have any illegal content removed from the internet. The Caymans Islands’ Portal can be found at https://report.iwf.org.uk/ky
Nations which have adopted IWF Reporting Portals are making an impact globally, by joining the battle against disturbing images and videos of child sexual abuse online. But for the Cayman Islands, that ‘impact’ was taken to the next level when IWF’s highly trained Analysts assisted law enforcement on the largest prosecution case involving child sexual abuse imagery that the Cayman Islands had ever seen.
Jo Payne, Digital Forensic Examiner, RCIPS Cyber Unit, said:
“After working on such a unique investigation with an enormity of material involved, it is good to know that the information we obtained has not only led to a conviction in the Cayman Islands but, thanks to the IWF, also has been used to eradicate such imagery elsewhere.”
To learn more about the IWF reporting Portals go to https://www.iwf.org.uk/what-we-do/how-we-assess-and-remove-content/our-international-reporting-portals.