`Attack' forces sex offender to flee


`Attack' forces sex offender to flee
20 August 2000
Independent On Sunday
Robert Verkaik

AN ANTI-PAEDOPHILE campaigner convicted of assaulting young girls has been forced out of his home after a suspected arson attack.

Roger Gardener, 56, who was found guilty of indecently assaulting two young girls last month, is on bail awaiting sentence from Cardiff Crown Court. The unemployed lorry driver fled his home at Blackwood, Gwent, south Wales, after an extensive fire and was keeping his new address secret last night.

Before the court case, he had mounted a local campaign against internet pornography. Earlier this month, after the court case, he had been told to register as a sex offender.

In a separate development, Michael Horgan, 55, one of those targeted by protesters after being accused of being a paedophile, said yesterday that he was suing the News of the World, which had published his name - shared by a known paedophile - in its list of sex offenders.

The engineer from south London has instructed a leading firm of libel lawyers to sue the paper whose "name and shame" campaign sparked a month of mob violence. The defamation specialists, Peter Carter-Ruck & Partners, will bring an estimated #100,000 claim against the News of the World.

The Independent on Sunday reported last week that innocent victims of the tabloid's campaign will have a strong claim for damages. At least two more innocent victims of the vigilante attacks are considering court action.

Mr Horgan, who now lives with a round-the-clock police guard, was targeted by an anti-paedophile group after his "exposure" by the News of the World. His name, telephone number and address then appeared on an incorrect list of paedophiles that was circulated in the Lewisham area. Although he was able to convince some of his neighbours that it was a case of mistaken identity, he had become "terrified" for his family, he said. All telephone calls to his home are now diverted.

Cameron Doley, a partner at Peter Carter-Ruck, which will take the case on a "no win, no fee" basis, said the News of the World had refused to publish a clarification.
"We took the action before the paper withdrew its campaign. The paper has written back claiming it has done nothing wrong. But that is no consolation to my client. There can't be anything much worse than being described as a paedophile."
Mr Doley said the News of the World picture accompanying Mr Horgan's name in the list was too indistinct to make it clear his client was not the paedophile Michael Horgan. "It was simply a picture of a white, middle-aged man with glasses."

The paper began its campaign after the death of Sarah Payne, eight, who was murdered last month in Sussex. After the newspaper decided to print the names of convicted sex offenders, some people across the country took the law into their own hands. Four nights of rioting occurred in Portsmouth aimed at known and suspected paedophiles.
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Police alarm as paedophiles seek refuge in Ireland


18 August 2000
The Independent
By Cahal Milmo

Sex offenders: Vigilantes have driven high-risk abusers across the Irish Sea, where the authorities fear they may strike again

Protests in Britain have provoked an exodus of sex offenders who believe they can find a haven from vigilantes in Ireland, Irish police said yesterday.

They believe a dozen British child abusers - including two considered "high-risk" paedophiles by the UK authorities - have secretly entered Ireland.

The men are feared to have gone to ground across Ireland, where there are no passport controls and no sex offenders' register. Child protection experts said the paedophiles believe they can evade detection.

There is increasing evidence that the violence which followed the name-and-shame campaign by the News of the World is forcing some sex offenders to seek isolated hideaways after one abuser, Thomas Maxwell, escaped jail because he was living in "voluntary exile" in the Hebrides.

Residents in the village of Leverburgh, on Harris in the Western Isles, last night vowed to campaign to force out the 60-year-old, who has gone into hiding and failed to contact his probation authority.

In Ireland, surveillance at ports and airports has been stepped up after officers received tip-offs from British police that paedophiles from their areas were heading across the Irish Sea.

One offender, a 36-year-old Birmingham man convicted of offences against young boys, was arrested at Dublin airport last week as he tried to enter and ordered to return to the UK.

But Irish police admitted that others running scared of protests in places such as Portsmouth and Manchester have managed to gain clandestine entry and present a risk of further offending.

Brendan Costello, spokesman at the police headquarters in Dublin, said: "Paedophiles coming from Britain to Ireland are slipping through the net. The numbers are not huge but they have increased since the protests. It is impossible for us to monitor every individual coming into Ireland from Britain and the risk is that they may offend again."

The police said 80 per cent of known paedophiles entering Ireland were being monitored, thanks to tip-offs from British police and information from residents where offenders settle.

But a Dublin police source added: "The system is far from ideal because we are reliant on word of mouth from our opposite numbers in Britain and historically there has been little monitoring of paedophiles here. We think there are around a dozen men who have stolen their way in over the last few weeks and feel they are safe from detection. Until or unless they commit crimes again, that is probably true."

Detectives have drawn up a list of paedophiles in an attempt to track down the most dangerous individuals at large.

One serial sex offender, Raymond Hewlett, 55, is in hiding after disappearing from an isolated cottage in Carlingford, Co Louth, in the north-east of the country last year.

The father-of-eight, who has convictions for kidnapping and raping or molesting four young girls in England, is wanted for questioning in connection with a series of attempted abductions in the republic.

Hewlett was also the main suspect for the murder 25 years ago of 11-year-old Lesley Molseed on the Yorkshire Moors. In one of the most high-profile miscarriages of justice, Stefan Kiszko was jailed for life and served 16 years before his conviction was quashed in 1992. He died a year later.

Hewlett was arrested on suspicion of killing Lesley after his release from a separate prison sentence in 1993. He was eventually freed through a lack of evidence.

Officials at the National Criminal Intelligence Service in London, which keeps a list of around 300 British high-risk itinerant paedophiles, said they were aware of offenders heading for Ireland. It is understood two child abusers on the NCIS serious sexual offenders' database have crossed the Irish Sea in the past month. Their details have been passed to the police.

Child protection experts warned that signals from the British government that stricter sentencing could be introduced for paedophiles will drive more offenders overseas.

An Irish sex offenders' register, similar to that in Britain, will not come into force until end of the year, welfare workers said.

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "The name-and-shame campaign in Britain has made Ireland an attractive option for British paedophiles. The evidence is strong from police officers and social workers that some abusers have already come into the country and gone to ground. There is a definite perception that Ireland is a haven for their kind."

Ireland's Sex Offenders Bill 2000 will require those with convictions for sex crimes to register with the police when they arrive. But campaigners say the Bill does not go far enough in providing public access to information. It will also include only those convicted of offences after it comes into force.

In Scotland, community leaders among the 400 people in Leverburgh vowed that their village would not become a paedophile haven after Thomas Maxwell was found to be living in their midst. This week, the blacksmith escaped prison for sexual offences against a 12-year-old girl in Alloa but went into hiding in Stornoway on Lewis when his conviction became public knowledge.

John Mitchell, chairman of the South Harris Community Council, said: "We have a system where living in this village is deemed a punishment equivalent to prison. We will not stop until this man has left."

Neil Galbraith, chief executive of the Western Isles Council, the probation authority responsible for Maxwell, said: "He has not been in touch. We do not know whether he intends to stay or where he is. The effects of the publicity about him are clear to see."
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Girl killer suspect's hideaway


6 August 2000
The News of the World
Amanda Revell Walton

A ruthless sex fiend and suspected child killer is in hiding in Ireland after dodging cops who had been tracking him for years. Detectives want to question paedophile Raymond Hewlett, 55, in connection with a series of attempts to abduct children in the Republic. Hewlett has a string of convictions for kidnapping, raping and indecently assaulting young girls. He is also the main suspect for the murder of 11-year-old schoolgirl Lesley Molseed who was molested and then stabbed to death on Britain's Yorkshire moors 25 years ago.
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