BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK
Front Page 
World 
UK 
England 
Northern Ireland 
Scotland 
Wales 
UK Politics 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 16:45 GMT
Wickedness of Wonderland
Ian Baldock
Ian Baldock: Was the crucial British link for police
On 2 September 1998, police across the world picked up 107 men in connection with one of the world's biggest internet paedophile ring.

Police seized a total of 750,000 pictures along with a library of 1,800 computerised videos depicting children suffering sexual abuse.

Officers from Operation Cathedral raided the homes of 12 men in Britain; nine were charged. Seven of them were sentenced on Tuesday; another was jailed three years ago. A ninth man committed suicide.

  • Ian Baldock, 31, a computer consultant, from St Leonards, East Sussex was the crucial link between paedophile rings in the United States and those in Britain.

    In 1997 US custom officials discovered American paedophiles were swapping images with Baldock.

    David Hines
    David Hines: Told BBC Panorama programme the club was 'great'

    Sussex police raided his flat and found a "massive library" of child pornography, police computer expert Nick Webber told BBC One's Panorama programme.

    There were 42,000 paedophile images on his computer and he had distributed 1,642 images to 17 other internet users in the previous six days.

    A loner who lived opposite a school in St Leonard's, Baldock spent hours every day logging on to the Wonderland Club.

    "He had no other life," said one detective.

  • David Hines, 30, unemployed from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, was the member of the club who went public on his obsession

    Described by police as an inadequate loner, Hines revealed the perverted values of the Wonderland Club when he spoke to Panorama.

    Gavin Seagers
    Gavin Seagers spoke of abducting and raping children

    Hines said he had been abused as a child and showed no remorse for the club's activities.

    "We didn't see it as abuse, we just saw it as some members being in relationships with children," he said.

    Hines said it was "great" to find on the internet people who shared his interest in paedophilia.

    He said: "I had friends all over the world. I never had so many friends before. There was always someone who'd get in touch and say 'trade?'."

  • Gavin Seagers, 29, nicknamed "Hopeful", a computer consultant and Sea Cadets youth leader, from Dartford, Kent, had potentially critical access to children.

    Police discovered Seagers, then a computer technician, had long internet conversations with Baldock and spoke of abducting, raping and torturing children.

    In May 1998 police tailed Seagers to a hut in the town and discovered he was volunteer youth leader attached to the local Sea Cadets headquarters in Dartford.

    Andrew John Barlow
    Andrew John Barlow: unemployed from Milton Keynes

    Police followed him constantly but did not arrest him until they were able to swoop on the entire ring.

    Seagers managed to use his computer literacy to make it very difficult for detectives to get access to the paedophilic images in the site.

    When they eventually encrypted the site, they discovered 17,000 images of children.

    Seagers pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity to the charges.

  • Antoni Skinner, 36, a computer consultant from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire swapped pictures under the pseudonyms "Uhura" and "Satan".

    Skinner told police after his arrest he had only been involved with the web-ring because of his interest in encryption.

    Antoni Skinner
    Antoni Skinner: a computer consultant from Gloucester

    Police said Skinner was another who used his computer skills to develop a "highly sophisticated" method of encryption and officers could only detect 390 images.

    However, police found evidence that he had transmitted thousands of pictures in the previous months.

  • Andrew Barlow, 25, had also configured his computer in a "highly secretive manner" to confuse police.

    They only found 200 images on his computer when they raided his home.


    A good father and a loving family man

    Justin Rouse, counsel for Stephens

    But police were able to trace the traffic from his computer and discovered Barlow had sent an astonishing 24,230 images of children to his cyber-pal Seagars.

    His counsel John Riley argued that Barlow should receive treatment in a clinic.

  • Frederick Stephens, 46, was nicknamed "Guess Who" and "Me Again".

    A taxi-driver from Hayes, west London, police found 8,920 images and 643 video images in his home.

    Frederick Paul Stephens,
    Frederick Paul Stephens: a taxi driver from Hayes

    Despite having a young family, Stephens had not used a password or encryption to prevent others having access to his material.

    Stephens was described by his counsel Justin Rouse as a "good father and a loving family man" who was "filled with self loathing" for what he had done.

    Mr Rouse said Stephens was found by social services to be no threat to his own children.

    "He is not in the same category as those who have taken the pictures," Mr Rouse told the court.

  • Ahmed Ali, 31, a taxi driver from Tulse Hill, south London, was forced to move out of his parent's address after he was arrested for being a member of the club.

    Ahmed Ali
    Ahmed Ali: a taxi driver from London

    His counsel Lewis Power said Ali had left school at only 16 and had fully expected a custodial sentence.

    Nicknamed 'Caesar', police found 13,000 obscene images on his computer.

  • Gary Salt, a former RAF engineer, from Stockport, Manchester was known as the chairman of the club. He has already been sentenced.

    Salt not only collected and disseminated paedophile material, he raped and abused children.

    He invited others to his Stockport home, including members of the Wonderland Club, to pose with children in front of a camcorder.

    The mother of one of Salt's victims recalled how Salt had enticed her daughter by taking her to McDonald's.

    When police raided his home, they found 20,000 pornographic images.

    Salt was given a 10 year sentence in 1998 for raping several children and distributing images through Wonderland.

  • Stephen Ellis, 40, a computer salesman, from Norwich, was arrested along with eight other British-based members of the Wonderland Club.

    He was charged in November 1998 with conspiracy to distribute indecent images of children.

    Three days after his first court appearance in January 1999, he gassed himself in his car.

  • Search BBC News Online

    Advanced search options
    Launch console
    BBC RADIO NEWS
    BBC ONE TV NEWS
    WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
    PROGRAMMES GUIDE