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Archive - Thursday, 16 February 2012
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Police blunder in child abuser case
POLICE missed a second chance to discover a sex offender they were ‘monitoring’ was able to chat to children at church, the Oxford Mail can reveal.
David Cox was given a sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) banning him from unsupervised contact with children, which was being enforced by Thames Valley Police.
However, as the Oxford Mail reported on Saturday, he was able to go to family services at St Ebbe’s Church for two years without it being discovered by police.
But yesterday it emerged Cox was arrested in May last year after being spotted by a worker at Lucy Faithfull House downloading pornography.
He was interviewed and denied it, before being released on police bail – but no checks were made to see if the convicted sex offender was up to anything else.
It was only on July 21 that the Reverend Peter Wilkinson contacted police about Cox’s behaviour that he was arrested for breaking his Sopo.
Yesterday police said they were reviewing the case but offered no reassurance to parents about whether this was a one-off or if its system for dealing with about 280 other sex offenders in the county was flawed.
Children’s safety expert Marilyn Hawes, of the Enough Abuse group, said: “It isn’t acceptable. Someone has messed up. The system is flawed.
“Someone’s mother is now tormenting herself that her child was being groomed in that church.
“The church recognised the problem and reported it to police but that should have been sorted by MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) and the police.
“What are they going to do with the other offenders?”
In court Cox’s defence barrister Peter Du Feu said: “At 54, he has long-term problems that aren’t going to be solved.He represents a management difficulty wherever he is.”
Mr Wilkinson said he had been impressed by the way the police had dealt with the concerns he raised about Cox.
But he added: “I would hope that whoever was supervising Dave would have known which services he was attending at St Ebbe’s.”
In a statement Chief Superintendent Andy Taylor said: “Protecting the public through the management of violent and sexual offenders is a key priority for the CID and the force.
“Every case presents different challenges but I am satisfied that the ongoing management of Cox within the community was in accordance with national guidance.
“I will have the case reviewed to see what we can learn for the ongoing management of other violent and sexual offenders across the force.”
Cox was jailed last week for two years after admitting breaching his Sopo and five counts of possessing extreme pornography and once charge of making indecent photographs of children.
What the police said
As a result of information received Cox was arrested and his computer was seized, he was interviewed and denied any offences. His computer was submitted for a detailed forensic analysis to be conducted to identify if he had committed any criminal offences; as there was insufficient evidence at that time to mount a prosecution he was placed on police bail. Further information was then passed to Thames Valley Police that Cox was displaying some concerning behaviour when attending St Ebbs (sic) Church. Thames Valley Police quickly met with representatives of the Church and alerted them to this information and disclosed detail of Cox’s offending history so that he did not have continued access to the Church. A second investigation was then commenced. The two investigations were linked and evidence was gathered which allowed the Crown Prosecution Service to authorise charges against Cox who was remanded in custody. Throughout his period of residence in Oxford, Cox was managed by Thames Valley Police as a Registered Sex Offender and subject to regular visits by the Public Protection Unit. These visits can be scheduled or made unannounced and were made in accordance with the National Guidance.