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Monday, 12 February, 2001, 03:19 GMT
Internet paedophiles face sentence
Images of children
Club members 'paid' an entry fee of 10,000 images
Seven men are due to be sentenced for their part in one of the world's biggest internet paedophile rings which was run over the internet.

Submissions will be made at Kingston Crown Court on behalf of the seven, who were caught as part of Operation Cathedral.

The men are Ian Baldock, 31, from St Leonards, East Sussex; Antoni Skinner, 36, from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire; and Gavin Seagers, 29, a Sea Cadets youth leader, from Dartford, Kent.

Ahmet Ali, 30, from Tulse Hill, south London; Frederick Stephens, 46, from Hayes, west London; and Andrew Barlow, 25, from Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bucks, will also be sentenced.

It's great the net ... new pictures to trade .. it's wonderful. It draws you in, it sucks you in

David Hines
The seven were among 107 people arrested in a global police operation. The perverts formed the "Wonderland Club".

All have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to distribute indecent images of children.

Under present law they face a maximum term of only three years, but a bill going through parliament will increase the maximum sentence to 10 years.

Another eighth man, Gary Salt, is serving 12 years after being convicted in Manchester of rape.

A further member of the group, Steven Ellis, 40, from Norwich, committed suicide after his arrest.

David Hines
David Hines traded thousands of pictures
The seventh man in court on Monday is David Hines, who showed no remorse in an interview on BBC One's Panorama programme broadcast on Sunday night.

Hines, 30, traded thousands of degrading images of children.He said he did not see his actions as abuse and denied that children suffered.

The international ring of more than 100 perverts swapped nearly one million photos of children and babies being abused.

'Not abhorrent'

Jobless Hines, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, told the programme: "We just didn't see it as abuse.

"We saw it as there were some children involved in relationships."

Challenged on the idea that the idea children could want sex is abhorrent, he replied: "Not to us."

Hand on mouse
Police seized 750,000 computer images of children
Hines told the programme: "It's great the net ... new pictures to trade .. it's wonderful. It draws you in, it sucks you in.

"I had people I could talk to. I had people I could trade images with as well.

"I'd never had so many friends. I had friends all over the world. People would message me who I didn't know ... and they would say 'trade?' and that was it."

The entry fee for new members was to provide 10,000 new indecent pictures - ranging from teenagers to babies just three-months-old - for the consumption of other perverts.

One man from Italy is believed to have owned 180,000 images.

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BBC News Online Forum with National Crime Squad deputy director Bob Packham Monday 1345GMTCybercrime
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The Wonderland Club: Panorama on Sunday Jan 21 at 2215gmt
Child porn ring exposed

See also:

11 Feb 01 | Panorama
Paedophile ring exposed
06 May 00 | Sci/Tech
Net sex addiction on the rise
27 Jan 00 | World
New weapon against child porn
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