A LEGAL precedent for Kent has been set after a Swanscombe man was prosecuted for describing the sadistic torture of children during a ‘private’ online conversation.

Convicted paedophile Gavin Smith, aged 41, of Boleyn Way, was handed a three-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, at Maidstone Crown Court yesterday (September 17).

Smith was previously jailed for two years in 2001 – under the name Gavin Seagers - for his involvement in an international paedophile ring called The Wonderland Club.

News Shopper reported in 2001 how Seagers – who was nicknamed Spank Daddy and worked as a youth leader at Dartford Sea Cadets – had to possess 10,000 indecent images of children before he could join the club.

His latest conviction is the first case involving online chat conversations which Kent Police has brought before the courts under the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

Smith pleaded guilty to nine counts of publishing an obscene communication relating to nine online conversations carried out in November 2008.

After being charged in 2010, he first faced trial at Maidstone Crown Court in November 2011 but the case collapsed following legal arguments.

Refusing to lose the case, Kent Police and the Crown Prosecution Service lodged and won an appeal in February 2012.

It was agreed from this appeal, held at the Royal Court of Appeal in London, that online chat conversations could be included within the Obscene Publications Act.

The case returned to Maidstone Crown Court on July 9 this year, where Smith admitted the offences.

Detective Inspector David Shipley, from the public protection unit at Kent Police, said: “As a result of this case, the Obscene Publications Act can be used for online offences where people engage in fantasy chat about the sexual abuse of children.

“Such people should not consider themselves beyond the reach of the law.

“Should we identify similar offences from anyone in the future, we will consider the use of this law, amongst other legislation available to us, to protect vulnerable people from harm.”

The Wonderland Club

OFFICERS prosecuting Seagers in 2001 also described how he fantasised about kidnapping, torturing and raping children in online conversations.

He was one of seven men sentenced at Kingston Crown Court in February 2001 for his involvement in international paedophile ring The Wonderland Club, pleading guilty to conspiring to distribute indecent images of children.

However, it was estimated hundreds of other men were also involved in the ring.

News Shopper reported at the time how the international investigation into the ring was nearly blown when it was discovered Seagers, who then lived at Burnham Crescent in Dartford, worked with the Dartford Sea Cadets.

An officer explained how police tailed him to make sure he never left the sea cadet headquarters with a child.

Police said that none of the indecent images found on his computer were of youngsters at the sea cadets.