Notorious sex offender 'should be thrown back in prison'
Published 25/08/2011 | 01:34
A notorious sex offender who abused two Northern Ireland schoolgirls must be kept in prison after going on the run for a third time, it has been claimed.
Paul Hunter Redpath disappeared from an address in his native Scotland and has not been seen for more than five weeks.
It is the third time that the 40-year-old has absconded - having fled to the Republic in 2006, and then in 2009 while under supervision by the authorities in Northern Ireland.
It has prompted calls for tougher action to be taken against sex offenders who abscond.
Policing Board member Ross Hussey said Redpath should be thrown back in prison.
"If a sex offender is given an opportunity to live in the community but is not prepared to abide by a set of rules, we then have to look at an alternative way of dealing with him," he said.
"In this case, if this man is going on the run and attempting to hide within society, he must be taken out of society and placed in a situation where the authorities know where he is.
"If that means that he has to be in prison, I would have no qualms about sending him there."
In June 2006 Redpath was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for indecent assault and unlawful carnal knowledge after an attack on a girl (15) with learning difficulties and her 13-year-old sister.
The self-confessed alcoholic was released from Maghaberry three months later, in September 2006, as he had already spent more than a year on remand. But he contravened his probation conditions and fled to the Republic.
Redpath was at the centre of a similar manhunt again in July 2009 when he disappeared from approved accommodation in south Belfast.
In the latest case, he was last seen in Aberdeen on July 19.
Paul Givan, who chairs the Assembly's justice committee, said prison must be considered where authorities cannot manage an offender's risk.
"If there is such a level of risk that the authorities are not able to manage an individual outside a prison environment then that is an option which needs to be seriously considered," he said.
"In this case there are questions to be asked about what assessment was made for this individual and the risk he posed."
But Marcella Leonard from Public Protection Arrangements Northern Ireland (PPANI), the agencies which manage sex offenders, said there is a well-defined system in place here for assessing and managing the risk.
"Protection of the public is the top priority," she said.
Paul Hunter Redpath was described as a "Walter Mitty" character when he appeared in court in 2006 charged over an attack on two vulnerable teens. In interviews he gave differing accounts of his family background, claiming he had been in the Black Watch regiment, his sister was a Wren, and that both his parents had been killed in a car crash.