May 2009

Convicted paedophile left free to attack girl, 4, after police monitoring failed

A paedophile who was being monitored by police and was already on the sex offenders register, went on to abuse a four-year-old girl.

Malcolm Hewitt, from Newport, south Wales, was given an indeterminate prison sentence for the public protection in 2007 for abusing his young victim.

The 55-year-old was already on the sex offenders register, having been convicted in June 1998 at Wolverhampton Crown Court for indecent assault and gross indecency with underage girls.

Today the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said Gwent Police failed to adequately manage Hewitt before he re-offended.

However due to deficiencies across the force, individual police officers would not be reprimanded.

The police watchdog upheld a complaint, adding that the force failed to take appropriate action, ‘endangering the welfare of the children living there’.

They also found ‘organisational failings within the force’s management of sexual offenders’.

IPCC Commissioner for Wales Tom Davies said: ‘Gwent Police’s policies and procedures for dealing with the management of sex offenders at that time were clearly not good enough and the force took action to put this right.

‘The IPCC investigation outcomes and the positive actions Gwent Police has taken in response have been explained to the girl’s family by the IPCC.

‘This little girl has suffered a traumatic experience and I hope that the family take some comfort that lessons have been learned from this to try and stop something similar going wrong in the future.

‘While the IPCC found that two junior officers had failed in their specific duty, we concluded those failings were a symptom of more serious organisational failures which led to the overall poor management of this registered sex offender.’

Hewitt was convicted by unanimous verdict at Newport Crown Court of two charges of indecently touching a child under 13 and one charge of inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity.

The offences came to light after the girl’s mother became concerned at comments she made while being changed one day.

Police and social services were alerted after the girl was examined by the family GP.

The court heard Hewitt lured his victim with sweets and a kitten he owned.

The jury took less than 90 minutes to convict him following a trial in which his young victim had to give evidence via a video link.

Grooming: Malcolm Hewitt was described by the judge as a ‘high risk’ to young girls

In imposing an indeterminate sentence with a minimum tariff of three years imprisonment, Judge Neil Bidder QC said: ‘It is plain to me that you have urges to assault young girls sexually, including an urge to penetrate them.

‘There is a high risk you will continue to seek out and sexually assault young female children.

‘In my judgement, there is a clear risk you will physically injure those children and given your selection in this case of a very young child, there is a substantial risk of causing serious physical risk to young children.’

The IPCC investigation found Gwent Police did not manage Hewitt in line with legislation or force policy.

No evidence of supervision regarding Hewitt during the five years he lived in the Newport area could be found.

Mr Davies added: ‘Gwent Police has fully accepted the IPCC investigation findings and conclusions. I have also agreed with the force that while two police constables would receive management advice, no other individual officer should face misconduct action because of the organisational failings.’

A spokeswoman for Gwent Police said: ‘The crime committed by Malcolm Hewitt was a tragedy for the little girl and her family and we deeply regret what happened.

‘We also regret that there were some things that as a force we could have done better.

‘Gwent Police referred the case to the Independent Police Complaints Commission at an early stage and we fully accept the findings and conclusions of the IPCC investigation.

‘We can confirm that all the investigation findings have been fully addressed by Gwent Police in advance of the publication of today’s report.’