Men jailed for internet plot to rape schoolgirls

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The Independent Online

Three men who hatched a plot on the internet to rape two young sisters were jailed yesterday.

David Beavan, 42, a greeting-card salesman from Bransgore, Hampshire; Alan Hedgcock, 41, a make-up artist from Twickenham, west London; and Robert Mayers, 42, unemployed, from Warrington, Cheshire, were convicted of conspiracy to rape at Southwark Crown Court in London.

The men - the first convicted of such a serious offence from online exchanges alone - met for the first time after their arrests. The court was told the fact they had never met did not prevent them from "drooling" over the possibility of turning fantasies into reality. Theymentioned carrying out a "Holly and Jess" - a reference to the two 10-year-old girls from Soham killed by Ian Huntley in 2002.

Police first heard of their plan when "rape-obsessed" Beavan got cold feet, walked into Bournemouth police station and told them what had been going on, the court heard. He claimed he was a "vigilante", gathering evidence against paedophiles.

They were given indeterminate prison sentences with an 11-year tariff for Beavan and eight-year tariffs for Hedgcock and Mayers.Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC, said the men posed a "serious risk of physical and psychological harm to children".