Worcester man who wanted to cannibalize children sentenced to 27 years in federal prison

WORCESTER—Child pornographer Geoffrey Portway, who asked a Kansas man to kidnap a child for him so he could torture, kill, cook, and eat the child in a sound-proof dungeon he built in his basement, today was sentenced to nearly 27 years in federal prison.

Portway, a 40-year-old citizen of the United Kingdom, was also ordered to pay $15,000 in restitution to five children he victimized as part of his participation in the dissemination of child pornography that included 5,700 documented times he shared images with others, according to court records.

Geoffrey Portway (US Attorney)

In court, Assistant US Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf said Portway was a man determined to torture and cannibalize children, but defense attorney Richard Sweeney said the Worcester resident was a man with “issues’’ who only engaged in fantasy role-playing on the Internet.

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But Belf told US District Court Judge Timothy Hillman that investigators from the US Department of Homeland Security were fortunate to have discovered Portway through a sweeping child pornography investigation when they did.

“The seriousness of these crimes cannot be overstated,’’ she said in court. “He sought to kidnap, rape, cannibalize and murder a child. He makes clear that he is not about role playing. He was caught by investigators in the nick of time.’’

In a sentencing recommendation filed by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz’s office, prosecutors said DHS investigators followed Internet traffic to Portway’s Worcester home, which they raided in July 2012.

Investigators discovered a massive cache of child pornography, including 20,000 images of children being violently sexually abused as well as images of dead children, along with information that showed Portway was in electronic chat rooms discussing murdering and eating children.

Inside the home, they also discovered the sound-proofed dungeon hidden behind two locked doors in the basement. In that small space, they found a child-sized homemade coffin, a child-sized metal cage topped by a steel plate with six places for restraints, butchering kits, castration tools, two freezers, and disposable scalpels.

Federal prosecutors said they also discovered Internet conversations between Portway and a Kansas man, since identified as Michael Arnett, during which the men discussed Portway’s request that Arnett kidnap a child for Portway to torture, murder and cannibalize.

“That is all I live for. I am serious,’’ Portway wrote in one posting when discussing his plans for kidnapped children. “It is the only thing that gets me up in the morning.’’

Arnett has been prosecuted by federal authorities and has since pleaded guilty to child pornography charges in Kansas.

Portway did not speak during the two-hour sentencing hearing at US District Court today. He pleaded guilty May 6 to solicitation to commit a crime — the kidnapping of a child — and distribution and possession of child pornography.

Sweeney, the defense attorney, said in court that Portway deserved to be punished, and expected to be punished, for the 20,000 child pornographic images found on his client’s computer.

“Anyone who collects child pornography should be punished,’’ Sweeney said in asking that his client be sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. “There is no excuse.’’

But Sweeney told the judge Portway had no plans to murder and cannibalize children. The butchering kits, the scalpels, the castrating tools were all “props’’ that he used in his “theater” — the dungeon in his basement.

Sweeney also said Portway led a “troubled life” that included a suicide attempt when he learned that a man had decided against making Portway a victim of cannibalism.

After sentencing him to 27 years, Hillman also ordered Portway to serve his sentence in a US prison, register as a Level 3 sex offender, and face deportation at the end of his time behind bars.