Morrow demands answers

Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA, Lord Morrow has called for an investigation into the case of a convicted sex-offender from Dungannon who managed to dupe a recruitment agency into obtaining work for him in Canada, whilst being under a suspended prison sentence and subject to a PSNI Notification Order.

He said, “This is a very disturbing case particularly from the perspective of public safety. The individual in question was convicted at Dungannon Crown Court in February 2011 for possessing indecent images of children. Part of his sentence was that he was bound by an order whereby he must notify PSNI of any travel plans or house move in advance and which must be approved.

“Yet this man was able to register with a recruitment agency where he failed to disclose his previous convictions when required. Clearly no checks were carried out and subsequently this man was able to jet off to a job in Canada.

“Police only discovered he was missing when a risk manager called to carry out a routine monitoring check, and learned he was abroad.

“Immigration authorities tracked the offender down at his work where he was arrested. In a startling revelation, we learn he admitted having indecent images of children on his lap-top in Canada. This is less than two years after the same offences in Dungannon. So not only did he leave the jurisdiction with considerable ease, he committed the same vile crime. We are told he was too ashamed to state his convictions to the recruitment agency but promptly proceeds to repeat his actions once abroad.

“This case raises many questions. Why did the recruitment agency not carry out checks to verify there were no previous convictions? Why did it take so long for risk managers who were supposed to be monitoring this man and his behaviour to realise he had fled the area? What rehabilitation or similar was handed down to address this man’s offending behaviour, which was deemed satisfactory to allow him to remain in a community setting as opposed to custody? What message does this send out?

“I am on record as stating Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Notifications Orders are worthless and this case has proved my point. They are nothing more than a paper exercise which invites sexual offenders to be good enough to disclose relevant information or desist from certain activity. They are not a means of enforcement, and penalties for breaches are woefully light.

“This was a drastic failure on the part of a number of agencies and I have raised these points with the Minister for Justice in relation to sex offenders in the community, and with the Minister for Employment and Learning with regard to recruitment agency and employer verification checks.”