Page last updated at 18:49 GMT, Friday, 23 May 2008 19:49 UK

Paedophile gang jailed over abuse

Left to right Paul Bures, Peter Melling and Derek Marshall
The gang groomed the boys and took them on holidays

Members of a paedophile gang have been jailed for a string of child sex offences against British boys in the UK and abroad.

Four men were sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court after pleading guilty to 17 offences on three vulnerable boys from Tyneside.

The offences were committed in Spain, Kent, London and Northumbria between December 2004 and December 2007.

Judge John Evans described the case as an "altogether horrendous story".

The hearing heard how Peter Melling, 58, of Middlesbrough, and Paul Bures, 53, of Kent, were supplied with vulnerable boys by Derek Marshall, 52, and his son Graeme, 24, formerly of North Shields.

Melling, convicted of eight counts of sexual activity with a child, was given an indeterminate sentence and must serve at least five years.

Bures must serve two years and three months before applying for parole, after admitting sexual activity with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and possessing indecent images of children.

Derek Marshall, of Melbourne Street, Carlisle, was jailed for five years for four counts of arranging or facilitating the commission of child sex offences.

Befriending boys

His son Graeme was given a three-year probation order for two counts of the same offence.

The court heard how the Marshalls had been befriending young boys - one as young as 13 - and introducing them to Melling for a number of years.

Melling would gain the boys' trust by buying gifts and taking them on trips to retail parks and football matches. The Marshalls would persuade the boys' parents they would look after their sons on holidays with Melling at various locations in and out of the UK.

The holidays, usually paid for by Melling, included visits to his villa in Torrevieja, Spain, where he would sexually abuse them.

Systematic grooming

Melling also took some of the victims to his friend Bures' home in Kent where they were abused and the offences filmed and put on computers.

Amanda Rippon, prosecuting, said: "This case revolves primarily around Peter Melling and his association with the other defendants and his systematic grooming and sexual abuse of a group of teenage boys."

Police began investigating Melling when one of the victims' fathers contacted them. Melling then fled to Spain.

He was eventually deported from Bulgaria in July 2007 with an international arrest warrant and brought back the UK, the hearing heard.

Bures handed himself into police in October 2007 after his photo was circulated via Crimestoppers.

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