Man caught texting about child sex abuse to girlfriend on plane flight jailed

A man who was caught out sending vile text messages about molesting children while on a flight to California has been been jailed for 15 years.

An eagle-eyed fellow airline passenger spotted the vile exchange and alerted authorities with the help of the flight crew.

Michael Kellar, 58, was convicted of conspiracy to produce child pornography, reports a press release from the US Attorney's Office in Washington's Western District.

His girlfriend, Lynn Burnworth, 52, pleaded guilty to distribution of child pornography and will be sentenced on the March 27.

The passenger witnessed the text exchange between them on July 31, they were then arrested in August 2017.

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At the time of the flight Burnworth was in Tacoma, Washington.

An investigation found that the two had produced and shared sexually explicit images of children that were in the woman's care.

During Kellar's sentencing US District Judge Ronald B said: "This case for me has been the most disturbing case that I have had. (These offenses) beset on society a waterfall of negative repercussions that can never be repaired."

The airline passenger who reported Kellar was praised by the US Attorney Brian T Moran for coming forward about the disturbing texts she witnessed on her flight.

They said: "We all have had that moment when we question: 'Do I get involved'. In this case, that witness triggered the rescue of two small children and the investigation that revealed this defendant to be a predator – collecting images of child sexual abuse."

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The passenger informed airline flight attendants who then had law enforcement meet the plane and Kellar was arrested.

Graphic explicit images were discovered in an exchange with Burnworth.

A court-authorised warrant was obtained to search Burnworth's residence, where sexually explicit images on her phone and several hundred images of child sex abuse on Kellar's laptop were found.

"Sexual exploitation of children is particularly heinous, and the FBI has made it a priority to hold those who choose to perpetrate these acts accountable," said Special Agent in Charge Raymond Duda, FBI-Seattle.

"Mr Kellar will now answer for his crimes against some of the most vulnerable in our community. This case demonstrates the FBI will rigorously investigate these crimes and reinforces that victimising children will not be tolerated by law enforcement."

Kellar pleaded guilty to the charge and access with intent to view child pornography on September 25, 2019.

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