Six held after raids on child porn ring

Paedophile crackdown: Magazines, computer disks and videos seized
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The Independent Online
A huge police operation was launched yesterday against what is believed to be one of the country's largest child pornography rings.

Thousands of videos showing child sex, photographs, magazines and computer discs were seized in at least 35 dawn raids by 21 police forces in England, Wales and Scotland. They are believed to have included pictures of an elderly man with naked boys as young as eight.

Much of the material seized under Operation Aurora is believed to have been filmed abroad in Thailand and Scandinavia. Several people were arrested and questioned.

The suspected vice ring is understood to have been uncovered last November following the arrest of a man by West Mercia police.

Address books and correspondence recovered are believed to have listed pornographers around the country who exchanged and sold child sex pictures, videos and literature.

The raids were the culmination of four months' planning by the West Mercia force and the West Midlands police commercial vice unit. It follows growing concern about the availability of child pornography, particularly from photograph quality computer graphics. Yesterday's raid were carried out as far afield as Devon and Cornwall, Lincolnshire, South Wales and Strathclyde.

In the West Midlands, two people were arrested and up to 100 videos and copying equipment was recovered. One person was arrested and material was also seized during four raids in London. About 300 videos were uncovered and three people were arrested in Devon and Cornwall.

All the material seized will be collated and examined by the paedophile unit of the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

Detective Inspector David Davis, head of the West Midlands vice unit, said: "This was a major operation which has taken many months of hard work. The men targeted live all over Britain and many were known to be communicating with several of the others."

This is the latest operation against a suspected national network. Last June, 11 men were arrested and hundreds of obscene pictures seized in a international police operation against child pornography on the Internet. Nine people in England and Scotland were questioned and 17 computers confiscated during raids that targeted about 40 people in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong, Germany and South Africa.

t Two men yesterday admitted involvement in a child pornography library run on the Net. Birmingham Crown Court was told that Alban Fellows, 26, a researcher at Birmingham University, ran the service, while Stephen Arnold, 24, from Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire, supplied some of the material.

The pair, who initially denied charges under the Protection of Children Act and the Obscene Publications Act of distributing child pornography through the Internet, changed their pleas after the judge ruled that a computer disk computer could be classed as a photograph and distributed.

Fellows, of Moseley in Birmingham, admitted four charges of possessing indecent photographs of a child and one of having an obscene article for publication for gain. But a not guilty verdict was entered by the judge against him on one similar charge.

Arnold admitted three counts of distributing indecent photographs. He worked for an American multi-national company and was a member of Fellows' library, which was stored on a disk he called The Archive.

Melbourne Inman, for the prosecution, said people wanting to join had to apply for a "ticket". A membership condition was that they should provide pornographic material which Fellows did not already have. Arnold, a graphics co- ordinator, used a computer at his company in Milton Keynes, to send Fellows pictures from a child porn magazine, Lolita.

The case was adjourned for pre-sentencing reports.

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