WORCESTER, Massachusetts (AP) — A British citizen who chatted online with other men about their desire to kidnap, rape, kill and eat children was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 27 years in prison in the U.S. after prosecutors showed photos of a basement dungeon he built, a child-sized coffin, butchering tools and metal restraints.
Geoffrey Portway, 40, was one of about 60 people arrested in an investigation of an international child pornography network that began in Massachusetts and has extended to at least a half dozen other countries. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf said 167 children have been identified as victims and rescued during the investigation.
Portway, whose family moved around often and eventually settled in Worcester, Massachusetts, was sentenced to 26 years and eight months behind bars, just under the 27-year, three-month sentence sought by prosecutors.
As a British citizen, he faces deportation. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Hillman said he agreed with prosecutors that Portway should serve his full sentence before he is sent to the United Kingdom. Sweeney, however, said he has the right to seek to serve his sentence in his home country.
Belf said chats recovered from Portway's computer show he solicited people for help to kidnap a child with the intent of raping, killing and eating the child. She disputed claims by Portway's attorney that he was merely fantasizing and did not intend to do the things he described online.
Belf read from one of his chats and said Portway had assembled everything he needed to carry out his plan, except for a child.
"I want to eat … the two boys you will bring me," Belf quoted Portway as writing. "Perhaps not today, but it will happen. That is all I live for. … I am serious. It is the only thing that gets me up in the morning."
Belf said Portway "can only claim fantasy here because he hadn't done it yet."
Portway's attorney, Richard Sweeney, called the room in Portway's basement a "theater" rather than a dungeon, and said Portway used it as part of his "fantasy world."
"He walked in there and he would do his fantasies, and he would do it in the privacy of his own home," Sweeney said.
Sweeney said Portway, a computer programmer, never tried to put himself in a position where he would have contact with children and never "laid a hand on any minors."
"In Mr. Portway's case, there's pornography, there's a fantasy world, there's no child," Sweeney said.
Sweeney said Portway had a "troubled life" after realizing at a young age that he was gay. Feeling as though his father and his peers didn't accept that, he began to retreat into a fantasy world, Sweeney said.
Portway's family moved often, and he lived in four different countries.
Sweeney said Portway had a history of mental health problems, dating back to when he was in middle school. Portway expressed his own desire to be eaten as a young child, he said.
Portway discussed killing and eating children with men in Kansas, Florida and other states. He pleaded guilty to possession and distribution of child pornography, and solicitation to commit a crime of violence.
Sweeney argued for a sentence of 20 years or less, saying he deserves punishment, but accepted responsibility soon after his arrest.
The families of five children identified in pornographic images on Portway's computer sought restitution. In an agreement with prosecutors, Portway will pay each of those five victims $3,000.