Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth couple ran 'international paedophile ring'

A couple set up a nudist forum website as a cover for an international paedophile ring, Portsmouth Crown Court has heard.

Melissa Noon, 30, and Robert Hathaway, 36, of Tyseley Road, Portsmouth, subjected two children to "shocking" sexual abuse, the court was told.

Hathaway pleaded guilty to 26 counts of sexual behaviour towards children, including rape.

Noon denies 12 charges including sexual assault and possessing indecent photos.

'Paedophile ring'

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

She said: "They used the guise of being interested in naturism/nudism to encourage children to walk around naked and be interested in their bodies.

"This was quite simply making children undress and be naked to satisfy their own sexual fantasies and those of the adults they contacted."

They also used the internet to make arrangements for other people to abuse the two children, the court heard.

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

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

Child rape

Noon 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.

Also standing trial are Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, London, who denies three charges of arranging a child sex offence and Daniel Bell, 27, a soldier, formerly of Emsworth, Hampshire, who denies 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 Rainham, Essex, denies causing a child to engage in sexual activity; Mark Day, 45, of Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent, denies two charges of arranging a child sex offence and a sixth man, Stephen Fraser, 41, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge, has admitted offences of sexual assault of a child and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

He will be sentenced at the end of trial with Hathaway who admitted 26 offences including raping a child.

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