A child sex attacker who police believe is linked to a paedophile ring in a tourist resort which had 139 under-age victims is starting a 10-year sentence in a young offenders institution for sex offences against young girls.
As Jake Ormerod, 20, begins his sentence for admitting offences described as "not far short of rape" against eight girls as young as 13, it can be revealed that Devon and Cornwall Police have interviewed 139 girls aged as young as 11 who say they were abused by the group in Torquay.
Some were picked up from the gates of their schools in the area or from the streets and plied with alcohol and cannabis before he had sex with them. The majority were "vulnerable" girls with a propensity to run away from home.
Although Judge Philip Wassall said he believed Ormerod was acting alone in committing the crimes he has been sentenced for, police working on Operation Mansfield, the investigation into the paedophile ring, still believe they will uncover evidence linking him to it.
Detective Inspector Simon Snell, who is leading the operation, said outside Exeter Crown Court: "Ormerod is extremely dangerous. He has done a lot of damage. Some of these girls attempted suicide. It has made them ill, it affected them both physically and mentally. Though he may have acted alone in committing these crimes we are still investigating people and whether this may show some link."
Ormerod will be released on licence after serving half his sentence. Unemployed Ormerod, who was described by Devon and Cornwall Police prior to the sentencing as one of the ringleaders of the paedophile group, was sentenced after admitting 13 counts of sexual activity with a child in May.
The court heard that Ormerod had unprotected sex with several under-age girls at his squalid family home. The building in Babbacombe Road, Torquay, often lacked a power supply and was described by one of his victims as "messy, filthy, minging and disgusting - with the family using old clothing instead of toilet paper before storing the soiled rags in a cupboard.
He would ply them with so much drink and drugs that they were barely conscious before attacking them - including trying to undress one paralytic 15-year-old while his mother, a "chronic alcoholic", was still in the room. He also had sex with one girl while she was asleep and then taunted her about it the next day in front of friends.
Paul Dentith, representing Ormerod, said that the girls' victim statements had been coloured and affected by media coverage of the letters being sent to parents and Ormerod's subsequent arrest. He said his client, who had "borderline learning difficulties" and a low IQ that made him seem immature was as much of a victim as the girls.
However, Judge Wassall rejected this notion, saying Ormerod was clearly guilty of "grooming" the young girls and making sure they were intoxicated before he struck - actions which showed that he was a risk to the public. He ordered that Ormerod serve five years in the institution before being released on licence for a further nine years. He was also put on the sex offender register for life.