Five jailed for paedophile abuse

A woman and four men have been jailed for their part in an international paedophile ring which committed "horrific" crimes against two young children in the UK and one in Australia.

Ringleader Robert Hathaway, 37, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, Hampshire, was given an indeterminate sentence of 12 years at Portsmouth Crown Court while his partner Melissa Noon, 30, received four years.

Judge Roger Hetherington told Hathaway he would not be released from prison for a minimum of six years and not until the parole board deemed him no longer to be a danger to children.

The three other defendants became involved by meeting the couple over the internet to carry out the abuse.

Stephen Fraser, 42, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge, was sentenced to four years with an extended licence period of six years; Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, north London, was imprisoned for four years with an extended licence period of six years; and Lee Parson, 38, of Arundel Street, Portsmouth, was jailed for three years.

A six-week trial heard that the two young children in the UK were repeatedly abused by the group, who used a nudist website as a guise for their perversions.

Hampshire Police launched their investigation into the ring after being tipped off by the authorities in Australia, who had uncovered a "mirror image" ring in Brisbane and Sydney which also abused at least one young child.

Hathaway had been in contact with this ring and shared images with them and one of the charges faced by Noon was for encouraging the Australian child to engage in sexual activity.

Passing sentence, Judge Hetherington said: "This is a case about cruelty to two children, physical cruelty in the sense each was subjected to physical acts which had no place in ordinary childhood development."

All the defendants were ordered to sign the sex offenders register and the judge ordered all the computer and photographic equipment used in the abuse to be forfeited and destroyed.