20/02/2007

Warning issued on 'missing' sex offender

Police are urging the public to visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre's 'Most Wanted' website in order to help trace a sex offender.

John Richard Murrell, 38, is being sought by West Mercia Police for failing to comply with notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act.

Murrell was last seen in the Worcestershire area, but is known to have links with Belfast, Aberystwyth and Blackpool. His photograph and details can now be seen on the CEOP centre's website at: www.ceop.gov.uk/wanted

Jim Gamble, CEOP Centre CEO, said: "Thanks to Most Wanted, offenders who fail to comply with notification requirements are finding it harder to hide from authorities. We believe that by attempting to evade management, these offenders lose their right to anonymity. We will therefore maximise every available opportunity to locate them, including posting their details on the Most Wanted website.

"We're asking members of the public to visit the site today and take a look at Murrell's profile. If they have information regarding his whereabouts, we'd encourage them to come forward. They can pass details directly to West Mercia Constabulary, or they can give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on: 0800 555 111.

"Public support has already proved invaluable to the Most Wanted initiative. With their help we have already located four missing offenders. By working together we can continue to track those offenders who try to avoid being managed by the authorities and protect our communities to harm."

The CEOP Centre is also continuing to appeal for information about three other outstanding offenders, also wanted for failing to comply with notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act.

Colin Taylor was last seen in the Northumbria area, although it has been suggested that he may have travelled abroad and may be somewhere in Europe. He has made visits to the Indian subcontinent and the Far East in the past.

Peter Weatherley is missing from the South Yorkshire area, but is known to have links in the north of England. It has also been suggested that he could be in Spain or elsewhere in Europe.

Joshua Kearney, who is also missing, has connection in the Lancashire area, but is known to travel throughout the UK.

Further information and photographs can be found at: www.ceop.gov.uk/wanted.

The CEOP Centre joined forces with Crimestoppers last November to launched the Most Wanted site, the UK's first national website dedicated to locating child sex offenders who have failed to comply with notification requirements.

This is an arrestable offence, with a punishment of up to five years imprisonment.

(KMcA/EF)


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