By Polly Rippon
A prolific sex attacker who groomed vulnerable teenage boys on the internet is HIV positive, it emerged today.
Anthony Marsh and his accomplice Lee Davis, both from South Yorkshire, have admitted dozens of sexual offences against boys aged between 13 and 17 after meeting them on the internet.
Today it emerged Marsh, who used the aliases Tony Taylor and Tony Smith while scouring chat sites for victims, had HIV throughout the time he was sexually abusing teenage boys.
Each of his identified victims has been tested and none has contracted the virus, which causes AIDS.
Today the detective in charge of the investigation said the men had committed ‘vile’ crimes – and urged parents to check what their children were doing online.
DI Delphine Waring from South Yorkshire Police, said Davis and Marsh had targeted vulnerable young men, many of whom were uncertain about their sexuality.
She said: “Their crimes are absolutely despicable. They’ve preyed on vulnerable young boys who have every right, in this day and age, to be able to experiment and use the internet.
“The internet should be a safe place where young boys who are perhaps confused about their sexuality can explore.
“This case just goes to show it is not just girls who can be victims of grooming.
“Both of these men – obviously vastly older than all of their child victims – have gained their trust, preyed on that vulnerability, and groomed them entirely for the purpose of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.”
DI Waring said the men, who were both married with children, met online and joined forces to track down, groom and sexually abuse ten teenage boys – aged 13 to 16 – at locations across South Yorkshire in hotels, their cars and even at home.
The sick pair are believed to have been committing offences as far back as 2005 – and officers believe there are more victims.
Both were married, family men but in secret they were preying on impressionable teenage men on a huge scale in order to satisfy their sexual urges.
DI Waring said: “They were leading double lives.
“I think it has become a vocation for them. It has become part of their lives they have been doing it for such a long time.
“They were on their phones as soon as their wives’ backs were turned. They have spent almost every waking hour trying to identify and groom young boys.”
Marsh worked as a travelling kitchen salesman, while Davis, who used the alias James Parkin – was claiming disability allowance.
The pair spent hours scouring gay chat rooms and social networking websites such as Facebook looking for victims.
They set up meetings with the boys – the youngest of which was 13 – using texts or messaging services.
DI Waring said: “Their offending began before the advent of social media sites such as Facebook and their offending has evolved as technology has developed.”
Victims were taken to Davis’s home, hotels, vehicles or open areas around South Yorkshire for sex.
The victims were from Sheffield, Birmingham, Doncaster, Barnsley, Hull, Rotherham, Preston and Darlington.
Unknown to them Davis filmed the abuse using a secret camera while Marsh filmed some of the abuse and distributed it online to other paedophiles.
“When they found out that’s when the victims have felt really violated and humiliated,” said DI Waring.
“They were involved in activity which they thought was a private act.”
DI Waring said both men were now estranged from their wives.
She said: “As much as the young boys are the true victims, the wives and families of these two men are victims too and feel a massive amount of betrayal and breach of trust of their family lives and marriages.
“Lee Davis was using the home he shared with his wife and children to commit these crimes, it just shows the degree of deceit and manipulation towards his victims and his family.”
Marsh and Davis were caught after North Yorkshire Police received a tip off last year that ‘a man called Tony’ was staying at a hotel in Scarborough and had indecent images of children.
Police raided the hotel and Marsh was arrested.
Examination of computers, mobile phones and camcorder footage let the inquiry to South Yorkshire and to Davies.
Analysis of the equipment showed the men had contacted more than 2,700 teenagers and police had to try and track them all down.
DI Waring today urged other victims to come forward.
She said: “If there are any young boys who have been offended against by these two, I would urge them to come forward.”
She also urged parents to keep tabs on their children’s online activities.
“These days kids have got smartphones and iPads and parents perhaps aren’t taking as much interest as they would if they were going out to meet someone.
“Because of the world we live in, parents and teachers need to be more intrusive at times and ensure that their children’s behaviour online is safe.
She added: “This case just goes to show that boys as well as girls are at risk of sexual exploitation.”
Marsh has admitted 34 offences including possessing and distributing indecent images of children. The images included extreme pornography and sexual activity with an animal.
Davis pleaded guilty to 20 charges including rape and taking indecent photographs of a child.
They will be sentenced in Sheffield on December 2.