Group found guilty of offences related to international paedophile ring

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A WOMAN and four men have been found guilty of offences relating an international paedophile ring.

Daniel Bell, 27, a serving soldier living in military accommodation but previously of St James Road, Emsworth, was cleared of two counts of arranging a child sex offence but found guilty of attempting to distribute an indecent image of children and two of possession of indecent images of children. 

The jury of six men and six women took 12-and-a-half hours to reach the verdicts on a string of charges after a five week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.

Judge Roger Hetherington has told the jury he will now accept a majority verdict on one remaining charge of arranging a child sex offence.

The four men and woman were part of a gang of nine people in the UK who abused two children under the age of 13 and shared photos and videos of the abuse online.

At the heart of the group was Robert Hathaway, 36, and his partner Melissa Noon, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth. 

From their flat they set up a nudist website as a way of contacting people and finding those who shared their vile sexual interest in children. 

Cascades shopping centre security guard Hathaway also trawled gay dating websites as a way of meeting people.

Some of the men they met online never physically assaulted a child but they made plans to and some of them received images of the abuse.   

The group had links to other paedophiles who were abusing children in Australia. One of the offences Noon was charged with involved enticing a child in Australia to perform a sex act on a webcam.

Unemployed Noon, 30, was found guilty of 11 charges, dating back to between May 22, 2008 and December 9, 2010.

She was convicted of three counts of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, two of arranging a child sex offence and two of sexual assault of a child.

Noon was also found guilty of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act and two counts of possession of indecent images of children.

The jury is yet to decide on another charge of arranging a child sex offence. Noon wept as the foreman of the jury read the verdicts out.

Noon declined to give evidence during the trial but after her arrest she told police she had not abused any children or arranged for others to.

Married marketing manager Mark Day, 45, formerly of Gosport but now living in Sandwich, Kent, wept as he was found guilty of arranging a child sex offence.

Self-employed IT consultant Simon Hilton, 29, of Islington, London, was found guilty of one count of arranging a child sex offence between the same dates.

He had already pleaded guilty to 13 charges.

They are three of sexual assault of a child, two of causing a child to engage in sexual activity, two of arranging a child sex offence, five of possession of indecent images of children and one of possession of extreme pornography.

Shop assistant John Maddox, 46, of Essex, was found guilty of one charge, from October 8, last year, of causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity. 

Maddox had already pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of indecent photographs of children. Four others had already pleaded guilty to a large number of offences, including Hathaway. The 36-year-old also of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, pleaded guilty to 45 offences.