Man jailed for sex attack

OFFENDERS given community punishment orders will now face criminal record checks after a man previously accused of a child sex crime was ordered to do gardening work at an Essex school by the courts.

OFFENDERS given community punishment orders will now face criminal record checks after a man previously accused of a child sex crime was ordered to do gardening work at an Essex school by the courts.

The need for better record checking came to light on the back of an independent review by the police and probation services in Essex after 23-year-old Ian Missing indecently assaulted an 11-year-old girl whilst carrying out a community punishment order as a school gardener.

Missing was yesterday jailed for 79 days “for the public's protection” after Chelmsford Crown Court heard he harboured sexual fantasies about young girls.

Missing, of Chelmsford, had admitted touching the girl's breast above her clothing at a previous hearing.

The incident had left the child “distressed”, the court heard.

The Home Office yesterday said the case demonstrated that more could be done to “improve our risk assessment procedures”.

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An independent review has been carried out on behalf of both Essex Police and Essex Probation Service into how a man once accused of a child sex offence was given work at a school as part of a punishment order.

It found that although all procedures were followed there were lessons to be learned from the Missing case.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “Public protection is the probation service's top priority. Every offender is thoroughly risk assessed before being placed in a project in the community.

“Unfortunately cases such as these demonstrate there is still more that we can do to improve our risk assessment procedures and we will ensure that we learn lessons from this case and take action to address any issues brought to our attention.”

The court heard how the attack happened after Missing was asked to do supervised evening work at the school as part of a punishment order imposed by a court when he was convicted of common assault against an adult last May.

During the time he was working at the school he indecently assaulted an 11-year-old girl, the court heard. The girl was not a pupil at the school and the attack, which happened last October, did not take place on school premises.

After the attack, it emerged that Missing had previously been accused of a sex attack on a child and investigated following allegations that child pornography was found on a computer - although he was not prosecuted.

Judge Rodger Hayward Smith QC yesterday sentenced Missing to a minimum term of six months in prison minus the 103 days he has already served, leaving a total of 79 days.

He said: “The offence consisted of you touching her breast over her clothing. You accept that you are attracted to young girls in the early stage of pubescence.”

Missing was put on the sex offenders' register for life and banned from working with children for life. He was also made the subject of a sexual offences prevention order for a minimum of five years and banned from contacting the victim.

Jane Lockyer, for Missing, said: “He accepts that it would have been very frightening for a young girl to be touched in that way and regrets the harm he has caused to the girl and her family.”

The girl's mother was in court but fled the room after the judge read out the sentence.

Speaking after the hearing she said: “I was extremely disappointed with the outcome, but at the same time I realise the judge's hands were tied by his jurisdiction. I left the courtroom rather hastily because I was upset.”

After the hearing, Mary Archer, chief officer of probation in Essex, said she regretted what had happened.

“Had Essex Probation known all the facts, he would not even be recommended for an Unpaid Work order,” she added.

“There are programmes to deal with sex offending; Unpaid Work would not have been appropriate. “Under no circumstances would we ever place an individual with suspected sexual issues to work in a school, or anywhere else where the public could be at risk.”

Chief Superintendent Graeme Bull of Essex Police said that an independent review commissioned by the force and the probation service had been completed and that lessons had been learnt.

“If there is a situation where an offender is likely to be in an environment where they are with vulnerable people a full Criminal Bureau check will be commissioned.”

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