THE pastor of a church attended by a woman accused of being part of a paedophile ring has told how she seemed stressed in the months before her arrest.
Melissa Noon and her mother Deborah Gover regularly attended Oasis Church in Upper Arundel Street, Landport, Portsmouth.
Noon had even worked as a cleaner at the church and Pastor Stephen Potter said he had noticed a change in the 30-year-old before her arrest in December last year and had arranged to meet her.
‘I was aware that Melissa was stressed and one of the reasons we wanted to talk to her was to help her through,’ he said.
Noon and her partner Robert Hathaway are accused of repeatedly abusing two children and encouraging others to do the same. Cascades shopping centre security guard Hathaway, 36, has pleaded guilty to more than 40 offences while Noon and four other men are on trial at Portsmouth Crown Court, having denied a total of 20 charges.
Mr Potter, who has known Noon since she was a child, said it looked as though Hathaway had a good influence on her.
‘He seemed a quiet kind of guy,’ he said.
‘He didn’t say a great deal. He seemed to think a lot of Melissa.’
The jury has heard the paedophile ring stretched as far as Sydney and Brisbane in Australia, where a third child is also alleged to have been abused.
The couple are accused of sharing photographs and videos of the vile abuse with others online.
The prosecution say the couple had started out using a nudist website before setting up their own online community which they ran from their flat in Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth, as a guise for the abuse.
The jury also heard from Noon’s sister Kimberly Gover, 22, yesterday, who said she had changed before her arrest.
‘She had gone very, very quiet,’ she said.
‘She used to come out for lunch quite often and she wouldn’t come out.
‘She kept saying she wasn’t allowed to come out. She just said she couldn’t because Rob was at home.’
Married salesman Mark Day, 45, formerly of Gosport but now living in Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent; Daniel Bell, 27, a serving soldier living in military accommodation but previously of St James Road, Emsworth; Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, Islington, London; and John Maddox, 47, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, all deny charges relating to the sexual abuse of children.