Shropshire Star

Predatory paedophile investigation 'one of the most harrowing' for police

The investigation into a "dangerous and predatory paedophile" was "one of the most harrowing" police have dealt with, according to a leading detective.

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Gavin Sloan and Louise Smith

Gavin Sloan, 46, formerly of Briar Close, Minsterley, was sentenced at Shrewsbury Crown Court this week for a catalogue of serious sexual abuse against children – some under five years old.

The court heard how he was assisted in the sickening offending by two successive girlfriends.

Sloan's crimes, which included the rape of a young child, saw him jailed for 21 years.

Louise Smith, 42, formerly from Cheshire, was also jailed for 11 years, while Jenna Ball, 37, of Sutton Road, Kidderminster.was given a two-year suspended prison sentence.

Judge Peter Barrie had described Sloan as a dangerous offender, adding: "You know no boundaries."

The court was told that Sloan had filmed himself carrying out other forms of sexual abuse on young children – over a period of offending that lasted for eight years from 2013.

Sloan and Smith, who met on the dating app Plenty of Fish, had also filmed themselves abusing children, while Smith carried out instances of abuse without Sloan present.

The court was told Ball had encouraged a young boy to expose himself, filming it on a phone, and providing it for Sloan.

Judge Barrie was told her actions had been guided by messages and requests from Sloan.

The court was told she had also looked to secure other opportunities for Sloan to abuse children in person.

Detective Inspector Jo Delahay from West Mercia Police said: “This investigation has been one of the most harrowing for all involved and we welcome the sentence that has been handed to Sloan.

"We also welcome the sentences handed to Ball and Smith for their part in assisting Sloan.

“He is a highly dangerous individual who preyed on young and vulnerable victims, and it is incomprehensible that he would commit such crimes against children and young people. Our thoughts remain with the victims and those close to them."

Police have also urged people with concerns about sexual abuse, or victims to seek help.

A spokesman for West Mercia Police said: "Anyone who needs help relating to child sexual images can get anonymous and confidential help from Stop it Now! by calling 0808 1000 900.

"Anyone who has been a victim of online child sexual abuse, or is worried they could become a victim, can call 101 or visit

"If you do not wish to speak to police you can contact Childline anonymously on 0800 1111, or the independent charity Crimestoppers, also anonymously, on 0800 555 111. Always dial 999 in an emergency."

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