A SOLDIER from Emsworth who was part of an international paedophile ring has avoided an immediate prison sentence.
Daniel Bell, 27, a serving soldier living in military accommodation but previously of St James Road, Emsworth, was given four months in jail, suspended for 12 months.
At a previous hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court, Bell was found guilty of attempting to distribute an indecent image of children and two of possession of indecent images of children.
The court was told an immediate jail sentence would have automatically seen him being discharged from the army.
Judge Roger Hetherington said: ‘I would certainly wish you to have the opportunity to stay in the army if your superior officers consider that would be appropriate in your case.’
Two other men who were part of the Portsmouth-based ring were sent to prison.
Married marketing manager Mark Day, 45, formerly of Gosport but now living in Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent, wept as he was sentenced to three years in prison.
Shop assistant John Maddox, 46, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
All the men were given sexual prevention orders and banned from ever working with children.
Judge Hetherington said: ‘An important part of the sentencing process in a case like this is to mark society’s revulsion to sexual offending against children and punish for it.’
The sentences follow a five-week trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.
At the heart of the group was Robert Hathaway, 36, and his partner Melissa Noon, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth.
At an earlier hearing, Hathaway was given an indeterminate sentence for public protection with a minimum of 12 years. He will only be allowed out if the parole board considers him safe.
His partner Melissa Noon was jailed for four years.
Three others have also been jailed for their roles in the shocking abuse of children.
Lee Parson, 38, of Arundel Street, Landport, Portsmouth, was given a three year jail term.
Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, Islington, London and Stephen Fraser, 42, of Hemingford Road, Cambridge were both jailed for four years with an extended licence period of six years.