Paedophiles' Jail Terms Increased

A woman and two men jailed for their role in a ''horrific'' international paedophile ring have had their sentences increased by the Court of Appeal.

The Attorney General had referred the cases of Robert Hathaway, Melissa Noon and Simon Hilton on the basis that the penalties imposed in respect of their acts of ''extreme and sustained physical and mental cruelty'' were unduly lenient.

The trio were convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court in December last year for abusing two children under 13 and posting images and videos of the offences on the internet.

Hampshire police launched their investigation into the ring, which was made up of nine offenders using a nudist website as a guise, after being tipped off by Australian authorities, who had uncovered a ''mirror image'' ring in Brisbane and Sydney which also abused at least one young child.

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

At their six-week trial, the prosecution described the case as ''horrific''.

The victims were ''systematically and repeatedly'' sexually assaulted on a daily basis.

Hathaway, 37, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, was given an indeterminate sentence with a minimum term of six years and his partner Melissa Noon, 30, was jailed for four years.

Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, north London, was imprisoned for four years with an extended licence period of six years.

Today, Lady Justice Rafferty, Mr Justice Foskett and Mr Justice Globe quashed Hathaway's sentence and substituted one of life imprisonment with a minimum term of 10 years.

Noon's sentence was doubled to eight years imprisonment and Hilton's sentence was increased to one of eight years imprisonment with an extended licence period of five years.

Lady Justice Rafferty said:

''It is difficult to find the words to express the outrage all right-minded people will feel upon hearing of these dreadful deeds.

''Adults debased themselves and, in so doing, traded two children as commodities.

''All these defendants found common cause in debauchery and wickedness.

''The evidence against Hathaway is overwhelming. He paraded his activities so gleefully that proving the offences was, as even he recognised, inevitable.

''Noon contested at least some matters. Noon and Hilton, like Hathaway, have revelled in their activities and used technology devotedly.''

She commented that the packed courtroom in London had fallen ''entirely silent'' when counsel for the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, outlined the suffering of the children.

Afterwards, the Attorney General said in a statement:

''All cases which involve the sexual assault of children are shocking, but the fact that these offences were filmed and distributed online to others in other countries, make it particularly so.

''Robert Hathaway was a manipulative lead player in these offences and I feel that the life sentence handed to him today now reflects that.

''Melissa Noon and Simon Hilton also knew exactly what was happening and played a full role in the abuse.

''I am grateful to the court for its consideration today.''