A British woman, Holly LeGresley, has pleaded guilty at Worcester Magistrates’ Court to charges of consuming, causing and facilitating the torture of monkeys. She was part of a global monkey torture ring that paid for and ordered baby monkeys to be tortured and killed in Indonesia to create videos to be circulated online. She will be sentenced on 7th June.

LeGresley, who called herself ‘The Immolator,’ even ran a poll for group members to vote on the method of torture they wanted to see inflicted upon a monkey for a video to be made, funded by the group. The choices included sealing a monkey inside a jar with red ants, applying a painful substance to the wounds created by a cheese grater or gluing together various parts of a monkey’s body.

Lady Freethinker, a US-based animal protection organization, and Action for Primates, a UK-based project that advocates globally on behalf of non-human primates, have spent three years investigating the sadistic world of animal torture videos. Our evidence and information have been given to various law enforcement agencies and spurred the BBC investigation and documentary about online monkey torture gangs – “The Monkey Haters” – which helped lead to the inclusion of animal cruelty in the UK Online Safety Act.

Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates commend UK law enforcement for taking on this disturbing subject and welcome the charges brought by West Mercia police force. Any individual involved in facilitating such heinous animal cruelty should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The charges are part of an international effort by law enforcement agencies to tackle those groups and individuals who facilitate the torture of baby monkeys. At least 20 people across the globe are being investigated, and several in the USA and Indonesia have already been convicted and imprisoned.

Members of these torture groups are primarily active on platforms such as Telegram and get ‘pleasure’ from watching helpless and vulnerable infant monkeys – some just a few days old – in terror and pain fighting for their lives. The extreme cruelty inflicted upon the baby monkeys included being set alight; having parts of their body cut off, including limbs, genitals, fingers, and toes; their bones broken with a hammer; their heads squeezed in a clamp; beaten viciously; and having their eyes drilled out with a power tool.

“The horrors being inflicted on innocent, baby monkeys for online videos are sickening, and strong actions must be taken to protect animals from such brutality at the hands of humans,” said Nina Jackel, founder of Lady Freethinker. “Those involved in the creation or distribution of animal torture content for ‘enjoyment’ pose a threat to both animals and humans, and they must be held accountable.”

“Such extreme cruelty and depravity must never be tolerated,” said Sarah Kite, spokesperson for Action for Primates, and who assisted the UK police with their investigation. “Anyone involved in this type of behaviour must be held to account, and others need to know that such behaviour will never be tolerated.’’

Shockingly, there are also monkey torture groups on the world’s top social media platforms, and many of these graphic videos – depicting mutilation, burning, beating and more – have also been posted on Facebook, making them easily available for others, including children, to access and view. By allowing these people to operate and post monkey torture content, social media platforms have enabled and continue to enable animal cruelty fetishists to connect and escalate their cruel activities to extreme and grotesque levels. Lady Freethinker and Action for Primates are calling on social media and video sharing platforms to take immediate action to stop the proliferation of animal torture content that is being posted online.

A second woman – Adriana Orme – chose not to enter a plea at this stage and will appear in court again on 5th June.