Portsmouth Child Abuse Trial Starts

A court's heard that a couple set up a nudist forum website as a cover for an international paedophile ring in which two young children were subjected to ''shocking'' sexual abuse.

Melissa Noon, 30, and Robert Hathaway, 36, caused the two youngsters to repeatedly suffer sexual assaults both for their own sexual gratification and for that of people they met over the internet, Portsmouth Crown Court was told.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, said the couple established the nudist website to make contact with like-minded people and distribute photos and videos of the abuse to people around the world.

She said they also used the internet to make arrangements for other people to abuse the two children.

She said the couple made contact with a family in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia, leading to sexual abuse over the internet of a child there.

Miss Maylin said the sexual abuse taking place in Australia was a ''mirror image'' of the abuse being carried out by Hathaway and Noon in the UK.

Miss Maylin said:

''Effectively, you may think Robert Hathaway was one of the main players in what can only be described as an international paedophile ring.''

She added: ''They used email and live chat telephones to maintain contact with each other.

''They took photos of what they did and in some cases video of what was happening.

''Those photos and videos were not simply to indulge their own sexual interest but were distributed to the group for the sexual gratification of others.''

Miss Maylin said the ''shocking abuse'' went beyond ''nudism'' and included rape and attempted rape.

Noon, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, is charged with two counts of sexual assault of a child; three of causing a child to engage in sexual activity; causing a child to watch a sexual act; three offences of arranging a child sex offence, and inciting a child to engage in a sexual act.

She also faces two charges of possessing indecent images of children.

The jury was told that Hathaway, of the same address, had pleaded guilty to 26 counts of sexual behaviour towards children, including rape, and 17 counts of possessing indecent images of children.

He is to be sentenced at the conclusion of the trial.

Also standing trial are Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, London, who faces three charges of arranging a child sex offence.

Daniel Bell, 27, a serving soldier living in military accommodation but previously of St James Road, Emsworth, Hampshire, who is charged with two offences of arranging a child sex offence, one of attempting to distribute and two of possessing indecent images of children.

John Maddox, 46, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, is charged with causing a child to engage in sexual activity, and Mark Day, 45, of Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent, faces two charges of arranging a child sex offence.

The jury was told another man, Stephen Fraser, 41, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge, had also admitted offences of sexual assault of a child and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

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