January 2023

Convicted paedophile given £36,000

A convicted paedophile received more than £36,000 of public money to employ students without undergoing DBS checks.

Weston College placed seven students – some of whom were aged 18 at the time, on a government-funded work scheme at firms run by Darren Kavanagh.

Kavanagh, 46, originally from Scotland was jailed for two years and placed on the sex offenders’ register in 2016 after admitting child sexual offences including possessing and distributing indecent images of children

The college said there was no government “guidance” that DBS checks were required for scheme organisers.

Kavanagh, who is also known as Weston was sentenced to two years in prison in 2016 and his name was placed on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years.

The Kickstart funding came from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and was distributed locally through gateway organisations – in this case Weston College.

The £2bn scheme – which closed in August – was launched by the government in September 2020 to provide funding for employers to create jobs for 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit.

It provided £36,639.99 to Kavanagh’s firm Octo Leisure Ltd based in Weston-super-Mare, North Somerset, between October 2021 and May 2022, a BBC Freedom Of Information request found out.

That amount was to cover “wages, national insurance and workplace pension contributions, as well as set-up costs and employment support”.