A MUM who sold her son to paedophiles on the dark web and filmed herself raping the child with her boyfriend was jailed today.
The nine-year-old boy from Germany was sold for sex to foreign men for thousands of pounds.
Footage of the abuse was traded over the internet, Deutsche Welle reported.
The abuse went on for two years before his tormentors were finally caught last September, a German court heard.
Prosecutors charged the couple with nearly 60 crimes, including rape, forced prostitution and extreme humiliation.
The mother, 48, was jailed for 12 years and six months, and the partner, 29, was jailed for 12 years.
They were key suspects in a paedophile ring operating out of Staufen in south-western Germany, near the city of Freiburg.
Five others have also been arrested – three Germans, a Swiss national and a Spaniard – who have so far received sentences from eight to 10 years.
The boy, now aged 10, is with a foster family and “doing well, considering the circumstances”, his lawyer said.
The dark web is a secret section of the internet hidden from search engines is a hotspot for online illegal activity.
Presiding judge Stefan Bürgelin said the mother’s actions began as a way of stopping her partner leaving, but before long money became the motive.
Psychiatric expert Hartmut Pleines told the court the mother had an underdeveloped capacity for compassion, adding it was unlikely she was forced into the crimes by her partner, as she claimed.
Questions are now being asked how the abuse of the boy went on for so long, with the trial revealing a series of failures by youth services and family courts.
These included allowing the son to live under the same roof as the partner – who was subject to a child contact ban and had a previous child abuse conviction.
A youth welfare office had taken custody of the child in March last year, but the mother went to court and won the right to have him sent home.
The court failed to interview the boy, and authorities didn’t notice the man was still living with them.
Concerns from the boy’s schools were also considered too vague by the country’s youth welfare office.
Wilhelm Rörig, the government-appointed special representative for the sexual abuse of minors, told broadcaster SWR that the bureaucratic failures needed to be “relentlessly scrutinised.”
He suggested compulsory legal training for family judges and said more money was needed for youth services.