Police helped to move convicted rapist

POLICE helped a convicted rapist move his caravan from outside a women's toilet block and allowed him to park it illegally next to his mother's flat, it emerged yesterday.

Richard Smith

POLICE helped a convicted rapist move his caravan from outside a women's toilet block and allowed him to park it illegally next to his mother's flat, it emerged yesterday.

Robert Johnson was permitted to bring his caravan from Long Melford, where there were growing concerns for the safety of both himself and members of the public, to Wickham Market, near Woodbridge.

Yesterday Suffolk Constabulary said action had to be taken amid “real concerns” that someone was going to be injured.

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However, there was growing unease in Wickham Market with villagers worried that the problem of where Mr Johnson should live had now been shifted to their village.

Cath Caudwell, parish council clerk, said: ''There has been genuine concern expressed by members of the community about the caravan having been moved from Long Melford to Wickham Market. It is very much in the hands of the police in dealing with the situation that has arisen.

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“There have been very inappropriate locations in which the caravan has been sited close to community facilities.”

Mr Johnson, who has been unavailable for comment, first arrived in Wickham Market on Sunday evening when his caravan appeared in the Chapel Lane car park, run by Suffolk Coastal District Council.

The location was chosen because it is next to Richard Kitson Court, where his 62-year-old mother, Gloria Johnson, lives.

Then on Monday evening Mr Johnson and the caravan arrived at the redundant Jewells garage on the edge of the village - close to a playing field, children's playground and nursery.

The 44-year-old was jailed for nine years in 1992 for raping a woman aged 23 at knife-point in Witnesham, near Ipswich.

Anne-Marie Breach, a spokeswoman for Suffolk police, said: “Following media coverage, concerns were raised by both members of the public and the caravan owner. There were real concerns that if the caravan remained at the location (in Long Melford) someone might get hurt.

“The caravan was moved, at the request of the owner, to the car park as a temporary measure as there were safety concerns and the caravan owner was advised to make alternative arrangements as quickly as possible.

“Police have been liaising with all parties to try to find an acceptable solution and the caravan was moved from the car park yesterday, Monday 7 July.”

Mothers playing with their children were concerned about the choice of location for the caravan.

One mother, a Wickham Market resident who did not want to be named, said: “It is not so much the children we are worried about - he did not commit an offence against a child - but it is more about ourselves and if we go out at night we walk home in groups.”

Last night, it was understood Mr Johnson had left Wickham Market and had moved into an undisclosed private address.

*Mr Johnson is to appear before magistrates in Ipswich on July 16 after he was charged with sending an offensive message after a telephone call was made on July 7.

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