20/07/2009

Police Apology Over Paedophile Attack

A Welsh family who say they reacted "within seconds" of a paedophile taking their child - by making 999 calls and giving the police his name and a description of his car - have received an apology over the way the emergency was dealt with.

The three-year-old child was taken from her home by Craig Sweeney, 24, who was on early release for another attack after which the child's family said a series of errors by South Wales Police meant Sweeney was only caught several hours later - by another police force.

South Wales Police admitted: "We did not do everything we could have done."

Sweeney - who was known to the family - abducted the child from her home after she had returned home from a shopping trip and while her mother made a telephone call.

He drove her to a Newport flat where he was living after being released early from a three-year sentence for indecently assaulting another girl - aged six.

The family of the girl said Sweeney had not been recalled to prison despite being accused of violence towards another man and of inappropriate touching of a child.
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Sweeney was only arrested three hours later when Wiltshire Police traffic officers saw a car with no lights on drive through red lights.

By this time, he had abused the girl in his flat and twice more in his car.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission later described Sweeney's crime as "monstrous," saying, had there been prompt and appropriate action by South Wales Police, part of the child's ordeal may have been prevented.

The family said South Wales Police had "finally accepted responsibility for their errors" and agreed to "substantial" compensation for the girl without "having to go through a traumatic civil trial".

The girl's father said: "We are pleased that South Wales Police have recognised that they failed our daughter on the night of 2 January 2006 and that she should be compensated for that failure.

"Had it not been for the officers of Wiltshire Police, our daughter would probably not be alive today.

"South Wales Police should have backed down as soon as we started the claim so that we did not have to go through the court process.

"It is very difficult to forgive given the callous way in which we as a family were treated but we owe it to our daughter to move on. She is a wonderful little girl with so much ahead of her," the dad said.

(BMcC/KMcA)

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