An Isle of Wight man who sexually abused nine children has been jailed for life, with a minimum of 16 years. 

Today's news has led to an appeal by police for anyone else who is worried about past contact with Jonathan Richard Maertens, 35, of Richmond Meade, Freshwater, to come forward.

  • If you have been a victim of child abuse, or have any information about this type of abuse, contact police on 101
  • Alternatively, contact Child Line on 0800 11 11 or the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000.

Maertens recorded footage of himself sexually abusing female children aged between 4 and 17.

In many cases, Maertens edited the footage and stored it on hard drives at his home. 

Police say that at this stage, there is no evidence that this footage was distributed any further. 

The court heard the devices were seized when officers executed a warrant at his home address.

Almost 2,500 pieces of footage and over 12,000 indecent images detailing his direct offending were found on the hard drives.  In addition to this, a further 6,500 videos and 197, 000 indecent images of children were also located.

During this investigation, a specialist team of officers have identified all the children who the defendant has committed offences against and they and their families have been provided with cross agency support throughout. 

Maertens pleaded guilty to 34 separate indictments including ten multiple incident counts of rape of a child under 13; five counts of sexual assault of a child under 13; three counts of taking indecent photographs of a child; and three counts, including two multiple incident counts, of administering a substance with intent.

Isle of Wight County Press:

DI Toby Elcock, of Hampshire Constabulary’s Major Crime Team, said: “Jonathan Maertens manipulated situations to facilitate access to children, including in some cases stupefying them, before recording his abuse.

“His actions have caused unfathomable damage to the girls and their families and I hope that this sentence can provide them with the justice they deserve.  Services will continue to support these children and their families so that they can start to move on with their lives.  

"Our investigation has also sought to safeguard other children that may have been in contact with Meartens.  I am therefore appealing to anyone who has concerns about their previous contact with him or has any wider concerns to contact Hampshire Police quoting Operation Foundry.

“This sentence reflects the severity of these crimes and we would encourage anyone who has been the victim of sexual abuse to report this to the police."

Superintendent Sarah Jackson, District Commander for the Isle of Wight, said: "The officers involved in this incredibly difficult and complex case have worked extremely hard to identify each of the victims and provide them and their families with the support they need, as well as ensuring they presented a case which saw a guilty plea, saving those involved the trauma of a trial.

"We take all reports of sexual assault very seriously, and will do everything in our power to bring those responsible to justice.

"It is so important to us that people have the confidence to report these incidents to us, whether they have happened to you or somebody you know. It is also important to us that survivors and their families are provided with the support they need, and we work in partnership with other organisations to ensure this happens."

Joanne Jakymec, Chief Crown Prosecutor, CPS Wessex, said: “Rape is the most traumatic crime that anyone can survive. This prosecution focused on the digital evidence available so that the brave victims did not have to attend court or relive the trauma through giving evidence.

"We recognise that there will be a lasting impact on the victims and their families, but hope that the outcome of today's sentence will be some small comfort.

“The public should have confidence that people who have indecent images of children will be brought to justice. These abhorrent crimes will continue to be investigated by our partner police forces and prosecuted by our specialist RASSO teams across the CPS.

"I am extremely proud of the prosecution team, who worked diligently and tirelessly to deliver justice."

Maertens also pleaded guilty to one count of assault of an emergency worker by beating, and one of producing a controlled drug of class B - cannabis.