Sentences of trio involved in Portsmouth-based paedophile ring increased

GUILTY Robert Hathaway and Melissa Noon
GUILTY Robert Hathaway and Melissa Noon
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MEMBERS of an international paedophile ring that was based in Portsmouth have had their sentences increased.

Ringleader Robert Hathaway, 37, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, who was given an indeterminate sentence and told he would serve at least six years has now been given a life sentence with a minimum of 10 years.

His partner Melissa Noon, 30, who received four years at Portsmouth Crown Court in December had her sentence doubled and was given eight years.

The third member of the group, Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, Islington, north London, who was orginally jailed for four years with an extended licence period of six years was given eight years in custody with five on licence.

A panel of three judges, Mrs Justice Anne Rafferty DBE, Mr Justive David Foslett and Mr Justice Henry Globe made the changes.

Mrs Justice Rafferty said: ‘It’s difficult to find the words to express the outrage all right minded people would feel upon hearing of these dreadful deeds.

‘Adults debased themselves and in so doing treated two children as commodities.

‘All these defendants find common base in debauchery.’

Earlier Sarah Whitehouse, representing the Attorney General, asked the judges at the Royal Courts of Justice, in London, to increase the sentences.

She said: ‘Our basic submissions are two fold.

‘The first is that the starting point in relation to each one of these defendants was too low.

‘The second is that in the case of Mr Hathaway the judge allowed too great a discount for his guilty plea.’

Mrs Whitehouse said: ‘This is a case where the plethora of aggravating features in it takes it out of anything that could have been envisaged by the guidelines.

‘The court must stand back and look at all the circumstances as a whole and impose appropriate sentences having regard to all the circumstances.’

She said the number of aggravating features put the case beyond the sentences suggested in the sentencing guidelines.

‘There were two victims,’ she said.

‘There were repeated assaults over a lengthy period of time.

‘The offences were premeditated and they involved significantly degrading treatment of these victims.

‘The assaults upon them were sustained.

‘For all of these reasons the offences are beyond what can be envisaged in the guide lines.’

She said: ‘Noon’s sentence was woefully inadequate. It must be seen in the context of a backdrop of enduring cruelty to these children.

‘Although Mr Hilton’s part was less than the other two there were a number of aggravating features.’

Barristers representing the three all tried to persuade the judges that the first judge to sentence them, Judge Roger Hetherington, had got it right.

Stephen Smyth, defending Hathaway, said Judge Hetherington had given the appropriate sentence having heard all the evidence.

‘He thought about it long and hard,’ he said.

Noon’s barrister Paul Walker said: ‘At first blush of course this was a lenient sentence for Melissa Noon given the horrific offences that Judge Hetherington had to sentence her for.’

But he said Judge Hetherington had taken great care and had not made a snap-decision.

And he pointed to Noon’s learning difficulties, describing her as ‘intellectually sub-normal’.

He said: ‘This was an experienced judge and he carefully weighed up Melissa Noon’s role in this activity.

‘He carefully considered how and why she became involved in this activity and he imposed a sentence of four years which I concede is lenient but is not unduly lenient.’

Andrew Turton, defending Hilton, said the sentence he received was appropriate.

‘In my respectful submission this court need not be concerned in amending that sentence.’

The review of the case came after the government’s top lawyer, Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC, asked the court to look at the sentences because he thought they were “unduly lenient”.

The case was described as the worst of its kind by senior Hampshire detectives, who privately have expressed disappointment at the sentences.

The investigation stretched as far as Australia, America, Japan and seven European countries, involving 35 suspects.

The evidence in the case included more than 14,000 indecent images of children and 300 films of children being abused.

From their flat in Tyseley Road Hathaway, a security guard, and Noon controlled the international paedophile ring that exploited children for the sexual gratification of adults.

Hathaway, a cold and determined man, controlled his younger partner and persuaded her to join him in abusing two young children.

The couple set up a website and encouraged other people to come to Portsmouth to do the same, sharing films and photos of the abuse around the world online.

Hathaway pleaded guilty to 45 offences including the rape of a child.

Noon was sentenced for 13 offences including sexual assault of a child.

Hilton was jailed for 14 offences including arranging a child sex offence.

Six others have been sentenced in relation to the case.

They are Lee Parson, 38, of Arundel Street, Landport, who was jailed for three years; Stephen Fraser, 42, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge, who was sentenced to four years with an extended licence period of six years; John Maddox, 47, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, who was jailed for two-and-a-half years; Mark Day, 45, of Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent, who received three years; Daniel Bell, 27, previously of St James Road, Emsworth, who was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and Jonathan Garner-Harris, 37, of Marrick Priory, Marrick, Richmond, North Yorkshire, who was jailed for four years with an extended licence period of six years.