Former neighbours speak of their shock over living next to couple who masterminded Portsmouth-based paedophile ring

PCSOs and police officers around Priory School this afternoon

Police speak to school after fight in Southsea play park

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FORMER neighbours have given an insight into the lives of depraved paedophile couple Robert Hathaway and Melissa Noon.

Residents at two Portsmouth addresses spoke to The News of their horror at learning about the child sex abuse committed by the pair, who lived in Stamshaw before moving to Somers Town.

Hathaway, 36, has admitted being the ringleader of an international paedophile ring and pleaded guilty to 45 offences, and his 30-year-old partner Noon was convicted on Wednesday of three counts of abusing two children under 13.

Next-door neighbour Sarah Childs, 28, visited the couple’s former flat, in Winstanley Road, and said she had been invited round for a New Year’s Eve party.

‘I’m so relieved I didn’t go,’ she said. ‘I have a three-year-old daughter, so the thought of going round there is horrible.

‘But they didn’t seem too strange when I used to speak to them. There was something a bit strange about Melissa but her boyfriend seemed like the normal one.

‘He worked as a security guard and would always be polite and say hello.

‘I did sometimes see strange-looking men coming and going from their flat, but it didn’t seem unusual at the time. I never would have thought they were doing such vile things.’

Other people who knew them told of a mostly quiet couple who nonetheless managed to upset and unnerve those living nearby, with one woman from Stamshaw even organising a petition demanding they be evicted.

The mother-of-one, who did not wish to be named, said: ‘Noon could become loud and abusive at the drop of a hat. My car got keyed and when I mentioned it to her she exploded.

‘After that someone sprayed paint on their door and I started handing round the petition. Then suddenly about a year ago they disappeared in the middle of the night, which should have been a sign something wasn’t right.’

After leaving Winstanley Road last year Noon and Hathaway moved to Tyseley Road, in Somers Town, where residents said they kept to themselves. ‘I didn’t know them but just the fact they were living here is disgusting,’ said mother-of-three Kelly Griffin, 32, who lived near the couple.

‘There are so many children who live and play here, the thought of them being just nearby is awful.

‘I hope they both go to prison for a very long time.’

Another neighbour, Maria Richardson, 59, said there had been rumours circulating about the couple over the last year.

‘I thought it was just idle gossip,’ she said. ‘So I tried not to take any notice, because these things can be blown out of proportion.

‘But when I found out what they were doing I was shocked, it just beggars belief.’

Another woman, who has four children and didn’t want to be named, said: ‘It’s absolutely revolting and horrible. This whole thing just adds to the bad image of this area, which it doesn’t really deserve.’

During their investigation police discovered more than 14,000 indecent images of children and 300 videos and films of children being abused.