A SOLDIER accused of being part of a paedophile ring has admitted lying to police but says he did so because he was scared.
In his first police interview Daniel Bell, 27, denied knowing anything about the ring or other members involved.
The serving soldier, who is living in military accommodation but was previously of St James Road, Emsworth, is on trial with four others accused of being part of the international paedophile ring.
Robert Hathaway, 36, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth, has already confessed to more than 40 offences relating to sex assaults on children and the possession of indecent images.
But when Bell was questioned again after police found indecent images on his computer he changed his story.
Asked why he lied when he said he did not know Hathaway, Bell said: ‘I must admit I was scared so I thought, ignorance is bliss and lied.
‘Basically I was scared, I was trying to cover myself up.’
Bell was shown the photos of children found on his computer and asked what he thought about them.
‘Sick,’ he replied.
During his second police interview he admitted talking to Hathaway about them meeting up but said he never planned to.
‘I did play along,’ he said. ‘Everything that has been discussed was all in my head. I didn’t really think of it as being real. It’s just fantasy.
‘It was all in my head. I didn’t think about going out and finding a child or anything like that.’
Asked how he felt about what Hathaway was doing to children he said: ‘I didn’t believe he was actually doing this.’
He added: ‘I have never had any sexual contact with a child whatsoever.’
Melissa Noon, 30, of Tyseley Road, Somers Town, Portsmouth; Mark Day, 45, formerly of Gosport but now living in Whitefriars Meadow, Sandwich, Kent; Simon Hilton, 29, of Wolsey Road, Islington, London; and John Maddox, 47, of Ellis Avenue, Rainham, Essex, all deny charges relating to the abuse.
· Melissa Noon denies 12 charges, dating between May 2008 and December 2010.
She is charged with three counts of causing a child under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity, three of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence and two of sexual assault of a child under 13. Noon is also charged with inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, causing a child to watch a sexual act and two counts of possession of indecent images of children.
· Daniel Bell is facing two counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence, attempting to distribute an indecent image of children and two of possession of indecent photographs of children.
· Simon Hilton is facing one count of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
· Mark Day is facing two counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.
· John Maddox is facing one charge of causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.