A campaigning Dungannon politician has secured a legal ruling which will safeguard the public from dangerous sex offenders.
Lord Maurice Morrow MLA welcomed the change after he raised concerns over how a Dungannon youth offender was allowed to brutally attack a young woman while on day release.
Thanks to his persistent enquiries, the DUP peer established that no follow-up visits or monitoring were carried out by police or any other agency whilst youth offenders were on day release.
Describing the case as ‘particularly brutal’, Lord Morrow said proper monitoring should have been in place to prevent any further victims at the hands of the perpetrator, following his previous conviction for a serious assault, which led to his categorisation as dangerous.
Justice Minister David Ford said that as a result of the MLA’s ‘persistent lobbying’, he had now introduced a formal procedure whereby local police will be informed of all unescorted home leave and will visit the young offenders.
“I closely followed this case since the individual was first charged in Dungannon Court including his unanimous conviction for rape and assault”, said Maurice Morrow.
I closely followed this case since the individual was first charged in Dungannon Court including his unanimous conviction for rape and assault
“In the run up to trial a number of issues become known including the previous record, a classification of dangerous and the fact the incident occurred when the offender was on day-release home leave from a custodial sentence.
“I made many enquiries to the Minister for Justice prior to and after conviction for this truly terrible crime particularly as to how a person categorised as dangerous under the 2008 NI Act, was at liberty to commit such a crime in violent circumstances, whilst still effectively a serving prisoner.
“I urged the Minister to conduct a serious case review but he was unable to do so as the offender committed the offence as a youth, albeit just a few months from turning 18. T
“Therefore the Youth Justice Agency was tasked with carrying out a review but this yielded very little, not surprisingly returning with a conclusion the incident could not have been predicted. I challenge this disingenuous report as no-one can effectively predict anything.”
In response to the minister’s change to the monitoring guidelines, Lord Morrow said: “I don’t think it’s enough, but it is a start.
“It is disgraceful a young woman had to become a victim of such a particularly brutal attack before what should have been mandatory monitoring is introduced. Once again the risk to public is classed much lower than the comfort of the offender.”