Child Abuse Gang To Be Sentenced

A woman and four men are to be sentenced today for their part in an international paedophile ring which committed ''horrific'' crimes against two young children in the UK and one in Australia.

Ringleaders Melissa Noon and her partner Robert Hathaway are to hear their punishment at Portsmouth Crown Court along with three men they met over the internet to carry out the abuse.

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

Noon, 30, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, was found guilty of three charges of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, one of causing a child to watch a sexual act, two of sexual assault of a child, two of arranging a child sex offence, one of inciting a child in Australia to engage over the internet in sexual activity and two of possessing indecent photographs of children.

She had previously also pleaded guilty to two charges of cruelty to a child.

Hathaway, whose 37th birthday is today (19/12), also of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to a total of 45 offences.

These are made up of two charges of rape of a child, four of sexual assault of a child, 15 of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, two of distributing indecent images of children, one of possessing prohibited images of children.

The other offences are one charge of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, three of arranging a child sex offence, four of making indecent photographs of children and 13 of possessing indecent photographs of children.

Lee Parson, 38, of Arundel Street, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to one charge of arranging a child sex offence, three charges of possessing indecent photos of children and one of taking indecent photos of children.

Stephen Fraser, 42, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge, had admitted 27 charges.

These are made up of one offence of sexual assault of a child, two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, one of engaging in sexual activity in front of a child, one charge of arranging a child sex offence.

The other offences are two counts of possessing extreme pornography, one of making an indecent image of a child and 19 of possessing indecent images of children.

Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, London, N1, was convicted of one charge of arranging a child sex offence and had previously pleaded guilty to 13 offences.

These are made up of three charges of sexual assault of a child, two of arranging a child sex offence, two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, five of possessing indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornography.

Hampshire police launched their investigation into the ring after being tipped off by the authorities in Australia who had uncovered a ''mirror image'' ring there which also abused a young child.

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

A total of 2,000 pages of chat logs were uncovered by police as well as 14,000 indecent images of children and 300 videos of children being abused.

The abuse included offences of rape and sexual assault as well as forcing the children to engage in naked games of Twister and wrestling.

Detective Inspector Victoria Dennis, senior investigating officer, said:

''This case is one of the most horrific incidents of child abuse I have ever investigated.''

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said after the case:

''This was a horrific case of systematic child abuse where the defendants subjected children as young as four to atrocious acts of sexual abuse and encouraged others across the world to commit similar offences.''

A further four defendants are to be sentenced for their part in the abuse next month.

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