A former Countdown winner has been jailed for 12 years after he told other paedophiles he would like to abduct and abuse little children.
Craig Chittenden, 33, from Willington, County Durham, also persuaded a woman in America to sexually abuse her daughter, as he watched for his pleasure.
He was caught by an undercover police officer after arranging a visit to the south of England to sexually abuse a ten-year-old girl, having planned the trip with a man he believed was her father, Durham Crown Court heard.
Craig Chittenden (pictured), 33, from Willington, County Durham, also persuaded a woman in America to sexually abuse her daughter, as he watched for his pleasure
Prosecuting, Jane Waugh said Chittenden shared 24 indecent images of children during a conversation with another paedophile in February 2020.
She said: ‘Both parties discussed the kidnapping and murder of a young child.
‘The defendant wrote: “If I kidnap, we can’t risk DNA or talking and killing will have to be done.”
‘He further stated that he would like the child to be three of four years old.
‘He wrote: “We will probably only keep her for a day max, a few rapes then end it. Smothering maybe”.
‘The discussion then switched to how to get rid of the body.’
Ms Waugh added that Chittended dismissed the disturbing discussions as ‘fantasy and escapism’ when he was arrested and interviewed by detectives.
He said he had no sexual interest in children, but admitted being sexually aroused by the images.
In a second interview he said he could not remember the chat about the abuse, torture and murder of a child, but did not dispute it.
When police visited his home, they found almost 1,000 indecent images and more than four hours of video footage featuring children as young as two being raped by adults, as well as extreme animal pornography with horses, dogs and cats.
Chittended called his planned visit to the south of England to abuse a child ‘fantasy’ and said he had ‘fallen down a rabbit hole’ into new areas.
Chittenden appeared on Countdown, the hit Channel 4 show, as a 22-year-old in 2010
He held online video chats with a woman in the United States who sexually abused her young daughter while Chittenden watched, the court heard.
She has now been jailed as well.
Chittenden appeared on Countdown, the hit Channel 4 show, as a 22-year-old in 2010.
He enjoyed a winning streak but was beaten in the semi-final by a 15-year-old boy.
At the time, his success made him the toast of Bishop Auckland College where fellow students followed his progress on screens in the dining room.
Lecturers described him as a ‘great role model’ to others due to his skill on the letters and numbers brainteaser.
Chittenden has now pleaded guilty to a charge of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sexual offence, inciting the sexual exploitation of girl under 13, possessing extreme pornography, distributing indecent photographs, and three counts of making indecent photographs.
Mitigating, Robert Mochrie said: ‘This is clearly extremely serious, and the defendant appreciates that. The only mitigation is the guilty pleas.
‘He fully accepts that he is responsible for what he has done.’
Mr Mochrie said Chittenden was struggling the death of a relative, and seeking help for a close friend battling alcoholism at the time of the offending
He added: ‘That being said, we all go through difficult times in our lives and don’t resort to behaviour like this.
He was caught by an undercover police officer after arranging a visit to the south of England to sexually abuse a ten-year-old girl, Durham Crown Court (pictured in a stock photo) heard
‘He does seem to appreciate the gravity of the situation he is in and does not seek to blame others for all of this.’
Chittenden, who had worked at Finbarr’s fine dining restaurants in the region, has now pleaded guilty and was given an extended prison sentence of 12 years.
He was told he will serve at least eight years in prison before a parole hearing will determine whether he should be released into the community to serve the remainder on licence.
Judge Ray Singh said: ‘There was a clear interest in sadistic torture, extreme violence and sexual offences towards children.
‘You remained emotionless and detached.
‘When one looks at whether there is a risk to members of the public of serious harm, that also means children.
‘I come to the conclusion, after having heard everything about, you that you do pose a significant risk of sexual, physical and emotional harm to children.
‘In my view you are a dangerous offender.’
Digital Online Investigator, DC Georgina Lewis said: ‘The Digital Investigations team work incredibly hard to protect young people from harm and bring perpetrators of child sexual exploitation to justice and I hope today’s result demonstrates that.
‘Chittenden is a sexual predator who tried to hide his crimes online and encourage like-minded individuals in the USA to carry out sex acts on children.
‘This was a complex investigation but thanks to the collaborative investigative efforts between Texas Police and ourselves he was left with no option but to plead guilty.’