Paedophile jailed for 18 years

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The Independent Online

A man involved in a paedophile ring was branded an "evil, predatory degenerate" as he was sentenced to 18 years in prison today.

Kitchen fitter James Machin was found guilty by a jury on Friday of three counts of rape of a child under 13, one count of conspiracy to commit a sexual assault of a child under 13 and six counts of possessing indecent images of children.

Machin, of North Parade, Falmouth, Cornwall, was part of a paedophile ring which repeatedly subjected two young girls to sexual abuse for nearly three years.

The 54-year-old appeared at Truro Crown Court wearing a neck brace and showed no emotion during his sentencing.

Judge Christopher Elwen said: "Having now discovered the depths of depravity to which you and your fellow conspirators are an evil, predatory, degenerate paedophile who has inflicted serious psychological damage on two young children.

"I don't think there will be a chance they will ever rid themselves from the serious trauma."

Police smashed the paedophile ring when they arrested John Barrett in December 2007 and a complex investigation, called Operation Lakeland, began to identify the other men involved.

Convicted paedophile Barrett, the gang leader, had groomed the two girls with cigarettes and then passed them on to other men to be abused.

Barrett, 49, and John Wrey, 55, were both convicted of a string of sexual offences against young girls in 2008.

Barrett, a builder from Camborne, Cornwall, was jailed for 14 years and Wrey, from Hayle, Cornwall, was given a five-and-a-half year sentence.

Other men arrested as part of the Operation Lakeland inquiry also received prison sentences.

Detective Constable Martin Skinner, from Devon and Cornwall Police, said: "Today has seen the closure of the case, with over 60 years in total imprisonment for the men involved.

"But, most importantly, all the girls in this investigation have been identified and are safe."

Speaking about Machin's neck brace, he said: "It's been reported to us by the prison that he was involved in an incident which resulting in him falling down the stairs, the circumstances of which are unknown, but he does share the same wing of the prison as co-offender John Barrett."

During Machin's trial, prosecutor Jonathan Barnes said Machin had taken the girls to an empty holiday cottage to repeatedly abuse them.

The court heard that the abuse started when one of the girls was aged five and the other aged seven.

The net began to close in on Barrett in December 2007 when he was confronted by the parents of one of the girls accusing him of offering her cigarettes.

He denied any wrongdoing but was arrested by police.

The girls were interviewed and later disclosed they had been sexually abused by Barrett and other men.

Jurors were told that hours before Barrett was arrested he had phoned Machin to warn him that the net was closing in.

Machin, who was finally arrested in June 2009, tried to cover his tracks by steam-cleaning the inside of his black Mercedes van and trying to wipe the hard drives of two of his laptop computers, which contained large quantities of child pornography.

Jurors heard that Machin made the two girls inhale the clubbing drug "Poppers" to relax them as well as using other sex toys during the abuse.

Speaking on behalf of Machin, Mr Timothy Hills said: "He himself (Machin) has now lost his family and he has lost the ability to work in the area in which he is very skilled."

But Judge Elwin said there was "no mitigation" for Machin's crimes.

Machin had denied all 10 charges, alleged to have been committed between January 1 2005 and June 3 2009, but was convicted by the jury after a nine-day trial.

The paedophile ring spread across Cornwall, with the ring leader Barrett, from Camborne, Machin from Falmouth, Wrey from Hayle, Derek Shepherd, 63, from Redruth, Alan Wills, 46, from Truro and Mark Cox, 43, from Helston.