Soldier admits he had fantasies of young children

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A SOLDIER accused of being part of an international ring of paedophiles has admitted he had sexual fantasies about children.

Giving evidence on Tuesday Daniel Bell, 27, said sexually explicit internet chats with a man suspected of being the group’s ringleader were part of a fantasy he now finds ‘sickening’.

The serving soldier, who was stationed at Thorney Island barracks, Emsworth, told Portsmouth Crown Court that he never planned to act on anything he wrote and had been depressed and drinking heavily at the time.

When confronted with the record of a chat log between himself and Robert Hathaway, 36, Bell said: ‘Truthfully it looks nothing like anything I would do.

‘It doesn’t remind me of myself at all. It makes me hate myself.’

He was asked by Elisabeth Bussey-Jones, defending, why he had sexual discussions involving children with Hathaway, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth.

Bell said: ‘It was not the truth whatsoever.

‘It was all a lie, a fantasy. I thought it was what he wanted to hear.’

He added: ‘I never believed he was doing any of the things I have heard in this case at the time.’

Hathaway has confessed to more than 40 offences relating to sex assaults on children and the possession of indecent images.

Prosecutor Kerry Maylin asked Bell about a statement he made to police where he said that he shared fantasies with the group’s ringleader.

She asked: ‘The fantasy that you shared with Robert Hathaway was one involving children?’

He replied: ‘Yes’.

Miss Maylin continued: ‘It is difficult to accept in the cold light of day that these conversations were sexually arousing.’

Bell repeated: ‘Yes’.

The court also heard how Bell’s fiancee left him just a month prior to their planned wedding, plunging him into a depression which he claimed prompted his communications with Hathaway.

He admitted lying to police about his involvement in the ring during his first interview, but said it was because he was terrified of ‘being branded’ as a paedophile.