A DEPRAVED couple whose sickening interest in children led them to abuse a child have been jailed for a combined sentence of 24 years.

James Hedges, 35, from Basingstoke, showed no emotion from the dock of Winchester Crown Court as he received the jail term yesterday (Friday).

Judge Susan Evans described the pervert as a “depraved individual” and said he expressed “self confidence and arrogance” in the way he gave his evidence.

Hedges was found guilty of 18 counts of touching a child under the age of 13, taking 26 indecent images of children, and making a further 523 pictures and videos following a trial at the same court, alongside his former girlfriend Lauren O’Hanlon, of Surrey.

Convicted paedophile Hedges was also put away for breaching a previous sexual harm prevention order.

The court heard that Hedges and O’Hanlon, aged 27, met on a dating site and she embraced his interest in young children.

During their relationship the pair exchanged messages talking about children “in a sexual manner” before the abuse took place of their victim in one afternoon of November 2017. Jointly the pair sexually touched the child.

In a statement read to the court the victim’s mother said that she “grateful” her child will “never remember the abuse”.

She said: “I dream about the abuse of [the victim] and I find myself awake and crying.

“I break down, sit on the floor and feel absolutely heartbroken that [the victim] was abused in this way.”

She added: “Lauren O’Hanlon and James Hedges have caused me so much pain.”

The court heard that Hedges has a history of possessing and distributing indecent images of children and was subject to a sexual harm prevention order and suspended sentence, which he broke months prior to the abuse.

He was found with a mobile phone containing social messaging platform Kik, in which, the court heard, he had the name of ‘Twisted Mummy of Three’ and O’Hanlon ‘Daddy’s Girl’.

A Dropbox containing illicit photographs of children was also discovered, which he tried to delete after the police had seized his phone.

In a letter to Judge Evans, Hedges said: “My trial has brought me face to face with the victims of my crime. For the first time I am able to see the impact.

“This has led me to reflect on the type of person I am and that is not someone I like or want to be, I am so sorry I didn’t see this sooner.”

Hedges said that he has “found sense of self-awareness” and his committed to “changing and never re-offend”.

Defending O’Hanlon, Jonathan Rosen said that she vulnerable and was “enamoured” by Hedges, adding: “In a way she fell under Mr Hedges’ spell”.

He added: “This is something she is going to have to live with for the rest of her life and probably hanging over her for the rest of her life. It is not something she would have done until she came into contact with James Hedges.”

But Judge Evans said that while she accepted O’Hanlon suffers from low self-esteem, she played an equal role “into this horrific activity”.

“You were willing to do things to please and excite him. Without him I do not think you would have offended in this way.

“You embraced it and you were excited by the deviancy.”

O’Hanlon was sentenced to eight years in prison, while Hedges was given 16 years and will serve a further two on licence.