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Serious sexual offender who used false identities to blackmail women and children online has been convicted

|News, International and organised crime , Sexual offences

A man who blackmailed women and children into engaging in degrading sexual acts for him has been convicted.

Anthony Burns (AKA Danny Burns), 39, has been convicted of 41 offences including blackmail, causing a child to engage in sexual activity, causing sexual exploitation of a child and making and distributing indecent images of a child (IIOC).

The CPS authorised the charges against Burns, formerly of Lowestoft in Suffolk, following a National Crime Agency (NCA) investigation. 

Between May 2018 and March 2021, the defendant, who has a history of sexual offending and was subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order at the time, created a number of accounts and false online personas to target vulnerable women, three of whom were underage, on dating sites. 

Burns would then immediately ask them to transfer the conversation to WhatsApp where he would start to request nude imagery from them. 

Once he had obtained these images from the victims, he would use them as leverage to blackmail them. Burns would threaten to publicise and share the victim’s images if they didn’t engage in increasingly more degrading and demeaning sexual acts for him and provide images and videos of it. 

In some instances, Burns sent other indecent images of children to victims and made requests for them to abuse children or perform sexual acts with animals. 

Much of Burns techniques to blackmail victims was learnt from a now convicted sex offender Abdul Elahi, who taught Burns what to say and gave him scripts that he used with victims.

The investigation identified 40 victims of Burns’ offending around the world, with most victims based in the UK.

When Burns was arrested at his home address, various digital equipment, including phones, were seized which provided a wealth of digital evidence linking the defendant to the offences including chat logs, more than a thousand IIOC and extreme pornography involving sexual activity with animals.

The prosecution used this evidence to build a compelling case against Burns which led to his conviction. He admitted 39 offences and was found guilty by a jury of two offences.

Bethany Raine, Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS, said: “Anthony Burns had an obsessive interest in controlling women and children into performing increasingly degrading sexual acts online for his own gratification. Burns also had a perverse desire to see others engage in sexual activity with children and animals.
“Burns belittled and humiliated victims. They became trapped in a web of fear where their own images became tools of manipulation and extortion, leaving them vulnerable to his depraved demands.               
“This conviction sends a clear message that the CPS is committed in bringing offenders like Burns, who sexually abuse and exploit victims, to justice, wherever that abuse takes place.”
NCA Operations Manager Robert Slater said: “Anthony Burns showed remorseless cruelty in controlling and coercing his victims, including very young children, into acts which have left them severely traumatised.
“The NCA is determined to identify and pursue the most harmful child sexual offenders, including those who exploit technology to hide their activities and target large numbers of victims, no matter where they are.
“Anyone being pressured or threatened into sending sexual images or videos online, should remove themselves immediately from the conversation, not respond further to any contact, and report the matter to police.
“You are not alone, you are not to blame and there is always help available.”
He is to be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court on 18 and 19 January 2024.

Notes to editors

  • Bethany Raine is a Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS’ Organised Child Abuse Unit which is part of the Serious Economic and Organised Crime International Directorate (SEOCID).
  • Anthony Burns (DOB: 21/07/84) entered guilty pleas to 39 offences these included:
    • Blackmail x26
    • Sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety x4
    • Making IIOC x4
    • Failure to comply with notification requirements x1
    • Causing the sexual exploitation of a child x1
    • Possession of extreme pornographic images x1
    • Distributing IIOC x1
    • Sending an indecent or grossly offensive electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety x1
  • Following a trial at Birmingham Crown Court he was found guilty of two counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity on 30 August 2023.

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