300 Ulster Sex Offenders Freed After Serving Half Their Terms

Almost 300 Ulster sex offenders were released from prison over the past five years after serving just half of their sentence, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal today. This means that, on average, 55 sex offenders are being released back into the community each year under Ulster’s controversial 50% remission policy. There are currently 29 sex offenders in Northern Ireland’s prisons waiting to walk free within the next six months after serving just half of their jail term.

Statistics released by Government minister Lord Rooker in response to a parliamentary question from Lord Laird show that, last year, 49 criminals whose primary offence was a sexual offence were freed under 50% remission. In 2004, 66 sex offenders walked free under the policy, with 47 being released in 2003 and 57 in 2001 and 2002.

A group of families whose children were sexually abused by a former teacher threw their weight behind the Belfast Telegraph’s campaign to scrap the 50% policy for sex offenders. They have called on the government not to free former Campbell College teacher Denis Grant until his full sentence is served. Grant is now serving a three- and-a-half year sentence for indecently assaulting six young girls he was privately tutoring.

However, under the current legislation, OBE-holder Grant will be free after serving just half of his sentence – to the distress of his young victims’ families.

The grandfather of one of the victims said: “If he is released under 50% remission the girls will only be 12 or 13 years old when he is walking the streets again. It could be very traumatic for the girls to meet their abuser after such a short period of time.”

The Belfast Telegraph is due to meet with Criminal Justice Minister David Hanson tomorrow to present him with the thousands of signatures supporting our Justice For Attracta campaign.

The paper has been inundated with messages of support from victims, members of the public, politicians and a number of Northern Ireland’s councils.