A British man who plotted to rape, kill and eat a child in a dungeon built at his home faces up to 27 years in an American prison before he is deported back to the UK, US authorities have said.
Geoffrey Portway, 40, spent months discussing the kidnap and murder which he planned to carry out in an underground chamber lined with material to muffle any sound.
He boasted of his intention to lock children in the basement of his Massachusetts home which was equipped with a steel cage, a child-sized home-made coffin, scalpels, butchering kits, freezers and castration tools in a series of disturbing web chats.
Portway admitted soliciting the kidnap of a child and distribution and possession of child pornography as part of a plea agreement, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Detectives said Portway detailed his desire to abduct, sexually abuse, murder and eat children he knew in a string of conversations online. The British man used programs such as Skype to communicate with American Michael Arnett over several months, asking him for help with the kidnap and setting out his preferred age range. Police said records of the conversations revealed that the two men discussed real children – by name and photo – whom Arnett claimed to know.
A host of disturbing material unearthed by detectives showed that the men shared child pornography and images of injured, mutilated and dead children.
Federal agents raided Portway’s home in Worcester on July 27 last year where they discovered a locked door in the basement. This led to a second door that opened into Portway’s lined dungeon which contained the small makeshift coffin equipped with large speakers covered in wire mesh at one end and fitted with exterior locking devices. It sat close to a steel cage with multiple locks and a steel table top with steel rings at six points, which police believe was designed to restrain victims.
The dungeon was further kitted out with a chair, a television, and what appeared to be cable access to the internet, officers said.
Outside the room detectives found a chest freezer and an upright freezer, along with some disposable scalpels, the butchering kits, and castration tools.
A spokesman for the US Attorney’s Office in the district of Massachusetts said: “This dungeon was described in detail by Portway in recovered chats as a place he intended to use to keep kidnapped children while he sexually abused them and as a place to eventually murder and cannibalise the children.”
According to US court documents, Portway solicited several people for help in obtaining a child, including Arnett. Police believe he began to make inquiries at least as early as 2010 and was informed that Arnett had previously helped others with such requests and had “experience” with the abduction and sexual abuse of children.
Various computers and digital devices containing Portway’s child pornography collection were seized when officers raided his home last July. A forensic examination of the material revealed more than 4,500 pieces of child pornography traded with others online. They included images and videos which appeared to depict dead children and cannibalism.
Authorities believe Portway was part of a worldwide network of offenders and, in many cases, distributed the material based on the preferences of his contacts.
Under the plea agreement arranged yesterday, Portway must serve between 216 and 327 months in jail, prior to a lifetime supervised release. He will be deported after serving his sentence, the US Attorney’s Office said.
Arnett has pleaded guilty in Kansas to the sexual exploitation of a child for the purposes of producing child pornography.