August 2013

Welsh booktown entrepreneur jailed for another 60 years in US on rape charges

Hanna

An American man who arrived in Wales promising to transform Blaenavon into a rival to Hay-on-Wye as part of a book town venture has admitted rape charges in the US.

James Hanna, 67, had already been sentenced to 60 years behind bars last monthfor the production of child sex images of two 13-year-old girls. Today at a hearing in Madison County, Arkansas, he changed his plea from not guilty to guilty on three charges of rape and was sentenced to another 60 years.

Hanna was a key figure in the book town project from 2003-06 and funded a local photography scheme for young people.

July 2013

Welsh booktown entrepreneur jailed for 60 years in US on child abuse images charges

james-hanna

A former South Wales bookshop-owner has been sentenced in a US court to 60 years behind bars for the production of indecent child sexual images.

Convicted paedophile James Daniel Hanna, 67, was arrested by American authorities last August in Madison County, Arkansas.

He later pleaded guilty to two counts of producing child abuse images in January this year .

Hanna, who used to own a bookshop in Blaenavon, was given 60 years imprisonment with no possibility of parole.

The court said any release from prison must be supervised and he was also given a $25,000 fine.

“Crimes against children victimise the most vulnerable in our communities. The defendant in this case produced child pornography by preying on several minor girls, some as young as 13 years old,” said United States attorney Conner Eldridge.

Suspicions first arose when a concerned parent sounded the alarm on Hanna, saying he had sexually assaulted two 13-year-old girls.

The Fayetteville court heard how the paedophile had been producing sexually explicit images of no fewer than six different minors, aged between 13 to 16 years old.

Having arrived in Blaenavon in 2003, New Orleans-born Hanna first gained fame when he attempted to launch a Blaenavon booktown that replicated Hay-on-Wye.

Mr Hanna was also involved with the Blaenavon doorway project for troubled young people, with whom he produced an online video, and had links with local schools through Booktown.

hanna

A recently completed review by Gwent Police into allegations made against Hanna found that he had not committed offences while liviing in Wales.

After his arrest in America, Madison County Sheriff’s Office provided Gwent Police with five indecent images which they suspected of being from outside the US.

But Gwent Police said it carried out detailed and extensive inquiries into the pictures and found that the people who feature in them “do not appear” to be from the Gwent area.

A Gwent Police spokesman said the images are now being passed to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Gwent Police also carried out a review into how allegations of fraud and possession of indecent images made against Hanna in 2004 were dealt with.

The police spokesman said the review found there was and still is “no clear evidence” of any crime regarding indecent images being committed in 2004.

It said a file of evidence regarding the fraud allegations made against Hanna was presented to the Crown Prosecution Service in 2006. The CPS decided to take no further action at the time.