Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Manhunt sparks call for clampdown on sex offenders

Recaptured: Paul Hunter Redpath

Northern Ireland Security Minister Paul Goggins has been urged to review monitoring of sex offenders after a convicted abuser went missing for a second time.

Paul Hunter Redpath (37) was arrested by the PSNI in the Belfast area last night for a breach of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and breach of probation.

A manhunt was launched after Redpath, who is on probation, went missing from approved accommodation in south Belfast. Gardai found him in Co Wicklow yesterday.

The PSNI, who said he posed a serious risk to vulnerable children and young people, had been seeking to have him returned to Northern Ireland. He also absconded in 2006 and was again discovered in the Republic.

South Belfast MLA Anna Lo said she was relieved he had been located.

She said: “There are serious questions to be answered regarding the monitoring of offenders of this category. We need an urgent review of the management of offenders in hostels and I would like to see Minister Paul Goggins acting swiftly on this issue. People need to feel confident that strong measures are in place to stop offenders from going missing.”

The SDLP’s Carmel Hanna also called on Mr Goggins to review this case, and asked what lessons are to be learned to prevent cases like this happening again.

South Belfast Sinn Fein MLA Alex Maskey said the matter had raised “serious questions” about the number of sex offenders being housed in the area.

An NIO spokesman said: “We will want to carefully reflect on the circumstances around this case and have discussed with the appropriate agencies to identify any lessons to be learned.”

Last month the Belfast Telegraph raised serious concerns about the release of Redpath who absconded just weeks after being given a “final chance” by a judge who released him from custody to reside at a probation hostel which he was only permitted to leave for one hour a day.

Redpath, from Stranraer, was jailed in 2006 for three years after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young sisters in Downpatrick.

He was released just months into his sentence because of remission and time already served on remand and was due to start a three-year probation programme but went on the run within hours.

He turned up in the Republic and after he was caught he was put on licence in December, but again breached the terms of that licence by drinking.

Last month at Belfast Crown Court Redpath was dealt with for that breach with her Honour Judge McReynolds imposing strict licence conditions after hearing a south Belfast probation-run hostel was willing to accept him.

She told Redpath, who has been ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for life, that for the next month he was not allowed to leave the hostel for any more than an hour at a time.

She warned him he was in “the last chance saloon”.

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