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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 13:15 GMT
Men jailed for online rape plot
David Beavan
Beavan claimed he was a vigilante gathering evidence
Three men who used an internet chat room to hatch a plot to rape two young sisters have been jailed.

They made "chilling references to the Soham murders" on a free website, Southwark Crown Court heard.

David Beavan, 42, of Bransgore, Hants, Alan Hedgcock, 41, of Twickenham, and Robert Mayers, 42, of Warrington, were found guilty of conspiracy to rape.

They were given indeterminate sentences with an 11-year tariff for Beavan and eight-year tariffs for the other two.

Jurors heard how the men, who had never met, came across each other in an incest chatroom where Hedgcock told Beavan he wanted to abuse two sisters, aged 13 and 14.

Beavan said he was interested in the plan, which involved pouncing on them as they walked through woods to school.

Mayers was later recruited via the internet.

Passing sentence on Monday Judge Geoffry Rivlin QC said the chatroom logs of their discussions about the plan were "most lurid and disgusting".

Stark warning

He said: "You were drooling over the prospect to take these children into the woods and rape them.

"These logs were further spiced...by the swapping of pornographic images of young children."

The Metropolitan Police said it was the first time internet chat logs had been used to prove a charge of conspiracy to rape a child.

Det Con Dave Adams said: "These three men took a step beyond fantasy and had actually identified the children they would target, the location where they would approach them and what exactly they planned to do to them.

Alan Hedgcock (L) and Robert Mayers (R)
The men did not meet until after their arrest

"It is appalling to consider the potential repercussions if this hadn't come to police notice.

"This case should act as a really stark warning that the internet is not a hiding place to plan and participate in criminal acts."

Jurors heard the men were arrested after Beavan walked into Bournemouth police station and told officers what was going on in January 2006.

Beavan, 42, a greeting card salesman, of Shackleton Square, Bransgore, Hants, claimed he was just a "vigilante" gathering evidence against paedophiles, but was convicted of two counts of conspiracy to rape.

Film make-up artist Alan Hedgcock, 41, from River Way in south-west London and Robert Mayers, 42, of Brighton Street, Cheshire, were found guilty of the same charge.

All three admitted various charges including 50 sample counts of distributing, making and possessing thousands of indecent images of children.

How the men were caught by police

Men plotted online to rape girl
01 Dec 06 |  London

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