Paedophile Sentences 'Too Lenient'

A woman and two men jailed in Portsmouth for their role in a ''horrific'' international paedophile ring are to have their cases referred to the Court of Appeal as the Attorney General believes their sentences may have been ''unduly lenient''.

Melissa Noon, Robert Hathaway and Simon Hilton were convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court for abusing two young children and posting images and videos of the offences on the internet.

The ring, made up of nine offenders, used a nudist website as a guise for their perversions.

Ringleader Robert Hathaway, 37, of Tyseley Road in Portsmouth was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of 12 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.

Noon will be eligible for parole after serving half her sentence and because she had already spent 374 days on remand prior to her sentencing in December, she is due to be released later this year.

Hathaway would be eligible for release after six years but would have to prove to the parole board that he was no longer a threat to the public.

The case against these three defendants is now to be referred to the Court of Appeal after the case was sent to the Attorney General by Hampshire and Isle of Wight Crown Prosecution Service which felt the sentences were too short.

A spokesman for the Attorney General said: ''I can confirm that the Attorney General, Dominic Grieve QC MP has applied to the Court of Appeal for permission to refer the sentences of the above offenders under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.''

Noon, was found guilty at trial 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, 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.

Simon Hilton, was convicted at trial 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 in Brisbane and Sydney which also abused at least one young child.

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.

Kerry Maylin, prosecuting, described the case as ''horrific'' and said the victims were ''systematically and repeatedly'' raped by Hathaway and sexually assaulted on a daily basis.

The abuse was documented with thousands of photographs and videos, some as long as 42 minutes, which were distributed by Hathaway over the internet.

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