Police have smashed a paedophile ring that repeatedly subjected two young girls to sickening sexual abuse for nearly three years, it was reported yesterday.
The gang leader, convicted paedophile John Barrett, had groomed the two girls with cigarettes and then passed them on to other men to be abused.
Police smashed the ring when they arrested Barrett in December 2007 and a complex investigation, called Operation Lakeland, began to identify the other men involved.
Details of the investigation can be disclosed for the first time after reporting restrictions were lifted yesterday following the conviction at Truro Crown Court of kitchen fitter James Machin (54), another member of the gang.
The father-of-two was found guilty of a string of sexual offences against the two girls over a three-year period. He will be sentenced on Monday.
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, was jailed for 14 years and Wrey, from Hayle, was given a five-and-a-half year sentence.
Other men arrested as part of the Operation Lakeland inquiry, Derek Shepherd (63), Alan Wills (46), and Mark Cox (43), also received prison sentences.
During Machin's trial, prosecutor Jonathan Barnes said Machin had taken the girls to an empty holiday cottage to repeatedly abuse them.
“This case is not about what John Barrett did in abusing these girls in an abominable way,” Mr Barnes said.
“He not only sexually abused these girls, he made both girls available to be abused by other paedophiles.
“The Crown's case against the defendant is that he was one of the other paedophiles involved.”
The court heard that when the abuse started one of the girls was aged five and the other aged seven.
“It is a distressing picture,” Mr Barnes said.
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 the police.
The girls were interviewed and later disclosed they had been sexually abused by Barrett and other men.
Machin, of North Parade, Falmouth, Cornwall, denied a total of 10 charges, alleged to have been committed between January 1 2005 and June 3 2009 but was convicted by the jury.