The Head of Business Development at Plexus Law has been sentenced to four years in prison after he was caught in possession of thousands of child sex abuse images.
Laurence Ives, who joined Plexus in 2013, was arrested in January 2018 when officers searched his home in Leigh, in Essex, after they identified him via another suspected paedophile. Police seized Ives' mobile phone, laptop and a tablet and found they contained more than 6,000 indecent images of children. 1,500 of them were classified as Category A, the most explicit type of image.
Police also found evidence that Ives had been engaging in sexual conversations with children since 2010, during which he groomed them for explicit photos and sex acts.
Ives (right), then.
Ives was charged with distributing an indecent photograph of a child, arranging or facilitating commission of a child sex offence, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, attempting to cause a child to watch a sexual act, two counts of making indecent photographs of a child, and 10 counts of attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity.
The Plexus BD head pleaded guilty to all 15 charges, and last week he was sentenced to four years in prison. He has also been placed on the sex offender register for ten years.
Ives in custody, now.
Detective Constable Nick Riley, who led the investigation, said Ives was "a predator who used social media to engage in sexual chat online with children as young as 12-years-old".
"He preyed on young vulnerable people, grooming them online for his own sexual gratification", said Riley. "The horrible actions of this individual sadly went undetected for ten years, but his criminal activity was identified as part of an investigation into another individual and through this we were able to arrest Ives within 24 hours".
Ives was pitching to Plexus clients a week before sentencing, and a source said that clients were not aware that Ives was on trial for child sex offences until the day he was sent to prison. That was because, said Plexus, it wasn't until 15 July that "we were informed for the first time that Lawrence Ives had been charged and pleaded guilty". He was sacked with immediate effect.
In a statement, Plexus said, "the nature of these crimes is abhorrent, and our thoughts are with anyone who has suffered or been affected by such offences".
It said that although his crimes "are in no way related to the firm or his work here", and he was not a solicitor and did not handle client matters, it had reported the incident to the SRA.
The firm also stamped down on local press reports that Ives' colleagues had made supportive statements about him, insisting that "no statements were provided by Plexus or its members at any time".