A gavel is seen in a hearing room in Panama City April 7, 2016. court judge hammer
A gavel is seen in a hearing room in Panama City April 7, 2016. Reuters/Carlos Jasso

A German mother who sold her son to paedophiles on the dark web has been sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail. The Freiburg court also sentenced her partner, the boy’s stepfather, to 12 years for the same charges.

The 48-year-old woman and the 39-year-old man were convicted of forced prostitution, rape, sexual and physical abuse, humiliation, and bondage in nearly 60 separate identified acts, the Guardian reports. The partner, a convicted paedophile, was also given a preventative detention order that would effectively keep him in prison for life.

The court heard that the pair, identified as Berrin T and Christian L, had sexually abused the boy themselves for at least two years. The boy was subjected to more than 60 serious sex attacks, many of them were filmed, over the course of two years from May 2015 to August 2017. Judge Stefan Bϋrgelin said on Tuesday that the mother had carried out one of the most brutal sexual attacks against her son. She had threatened the boy with foster care if he reported them.

The couple were accused of being part of a paedophile ring that operated like a business from the town of Staufen. The abusers apparently paid up to €10,000 (AU$15,645) to abuse the victim. The couple also filmed their abuse and sold the videos for large sums via the darknet.

Judge Bϋrgelin learnt that the woman was initially motivated to take part in the abuse to ensure that her partner would not go through his threats to leave her. Then it became financial incentives for her.

The verdict on Tuesday also ordered the pair to pay a total of €42,500 (AU$66,490) in compensation to the boy and another victim, a 3-year-old girl. Six other men, including three German, a Swiss and a Spanish man, were given sentences of between eight and 10 years.

The case has horrified the country, not only because of the gravity of the attacks against the boy, but also because of the missed opportunities to rescue the victim. The media have questioned and criticised child welfare authorities in the Baden-Wϋrttemberg state for their failure to protect the boy, who had been at one time removed from the couple by social workers but was returned after a few weeks.

Spiegel news website (via BBC) said that welfare officers had not exchanged information about the case that could have led to the couple’s crimes. The partner, as a convicted paedophile, was also legally banned from having contact with children at the time of the abuse.

The boy is now living with foster parents.