Everybody Let Us Down, Says Father Of Sweeney Victim

More needs to be done to protect the public from dangerous paedophiles living in their communities, Welsh politicians said yesterday. Their calls came as a report revealed Craig Sweeney, who was jailed for sexually assaulting a three-year-old Cardiff girl, had inappropriately approached children while he was on licence for a previous conviction.

But, despite being informed about the incident, the police and probation services decided not to send him back to prison because there was “limited” evidence.

In January, Craig Sweeney, 24, abducted a three-year-old from her Cardiff home and abused her. It happened two days after his licence for an indecent assault on a six-year-old expired.

He was living in a hostel in Caerleon Road, Newport, at the time.

Sweeney was jailed for life in June, but his sentence caused outrage when he was told he could apply for parole in five years and 108 days.

Yesterday’s report said his supervisors over-relied on informal arrangements and the hostel was unsuitable.

The report by Dyfed-Powys Police, looked at how Sweeney was managed in Gwent under Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (Mappa). In addition to making recommendations on how Gwent can improve its supervision of paedophiles it described how Sweeney was alleged to have made inappropriate comments to three 10-to-11-year-olds on August 3, 2005. It says he touched one girl “by means of picking her up by her bottom”, in the Avon and Somerset area.

Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan last night said, “I think it’s a sort of wake up call about all the issues we knew are so important but which in this case resulted in tragic circumstances.

“This inquiry, and the previous inquiry by the IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission] shows that in this case, in every respect, things were not as they should be.”

David Jones, MP for Clwyd West and Shadow Minister for Wales, said, “This demonstrates that new arrangements need to be put in place for the supervision of very dangerous offenders such as Sweeney. It’s clear that the arrangements were manifestly not adequate. This is something that has to be addressed by central Government.”

Shadow Home Secretary David Davis said, “This demonstrates just what a serious problem we face. The cost of this failure is being met by the public who are being put at unacceptable risk.

“The phrase ‘under supervision’ is starting to look like a contradiction in terms, since very few people who pose a risk to the public are supervised to an adequate level to ensure public safety.”

At a press conference Assistant Chief Constable Bill Horne – chair of Gwent Mappa – said, “If we examine many, many, cases in depth, we will always find something that isn’t as we wish it to be on every occasion.

“There were occasions here that we would wish to have done better, but none of those occasions led to what Craig Sweeney did on January 2, 2006. Because even if we take it to the nth degree, after Craig Sweeney had been recalled to prison following the Avon and Somerset incident, he would still have been released before January 2, 2006.”

Jane Coates, Gwent probation service’s chief officer, said, “It isn’t 24/7 surveillance and it would be unrealistic to assume supervision is that. Craig Sweeney is an exception. A very serious and regrettable exception, but he is an exception.”

Mr Horne and Ms Coates said no one had been disciplined for shortcomings.

The father of the girl, referred to as Child A, last night said, “They did apologise, but it’s too late in this case.

“We have been let down by the probation [service], we have been let down by the police, by the judge, by the guidelines, by the attorney. Everybody has let us down.”