Child Abduction in Blackpool

I am a single parent of two boys aged 14 and 12. In October 03, my younger son became involved with a 61-year-old man and, on the first of many occasions, was missing from home for over 36 hours. On one occasion he was missing for more than 72 hours. When he was found the first time, we discovered that this man had kept my son at his home for all this time, given him money and taken him out!

From this first encounter, my son changed, and was frequently missing from home, and on most occasions was with the man, who may I add never once introduced himself to me.

On the 26th October 2003, I was becoming increasingly worried for the safety of my son and with the current situation.

I, along with a support worker from Barnardos, and on the advice of the police, I took my son to Blackpool social services and told them what was going on. I was told by Mr Lehey to write the man a letter telling him to stay away from my son. When I asked for Social Services to open a case for my family and me based on my concerns over my son, I was told that there were far too many child protection issues going on in Blackpool and that mine was not a child protection issue. I am still amazed by this comment.

I did what they said anyway, and sent the letter, but that made no difference whatsoever. Things just got worse. My son was missing school to be with this man, as he was giving him vast amounts of cash, ranging from twenty to one hundred pounds per week at one stage.

He was also allowing him to smoke and drink and basically do all the things that I would not have allowed, and by doing this the man was encouraging my son to be with him and not at home with me where he belonged.

I was by now going out of my mind with worry, and again with Barnardos tried for three months to get help from Social Services and Police Family Protection Unit, but no one seemed interested, until January 2004 when the local Police Constable acted on his own initiative, and decided to arrest the man. He was charged with 3 counts of child abduction. He was then put before Blackpool magistrates court, were he pleaded not guilty on all counts. The courts then released him on bail until a trial could be set for crown court. Even this did not stop this man, as he continued his involvement with my son even though his bail conditions stated that he must stay away.

My son continued to go missing and have huge amounts of money given to him on a daily basis, and the man even picked him up from school more than once posing as his uncle. The man was put back before the courts for breaching his bail conditions quite a few times, but the courts just kept re-bailing him on the same conditions. The man showed total disregard for my family, the law, the courts, the Police and me and seemed to find it all a big joke.

The Family Protection Unit at Blackpool never interviewed my family then or since. A neighbour aged 15 went missing after I reported the abductions to Blackpool Police when all this was going on - 18th October 2003 and later. She has not been found yet.

In June 2004, after starting to get in trouble himself with the police, my son was placed into local authority care for his own welfare, until the case against the man was dealt with by way of the crown courts. The man then targeted my older son, offering him money and telling him to get me to drop the case. He even threatened to be violent towards both my sons if he got sent to jail.

After a few months of this the man was again arrested for counts of perverting the course of justice, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to charge him; just to use this in the trial against him.

On the 2nd December 2004 we went for trial at Preston crown court, with me, my son and the local police constables who had made the case all required to testify against the man, but before it began the prosecution allowed the man to enter into a plea bargain, were he would only plead guilty to the lesser one of the three counts of child abduction. Even though one of the other counts involved the man removing my son from Blackpool and taking him to a night club in Derby, of which there was plenty of evidence including a witness in the club in Derby, and the man's confession to this on tape when he was interviewed by the police.

I made my views perfectly clear to the prosecution and demanded that this bargain not be accepted, but they completely disregarded my views. Even the Police Constables who had done all the groundwork in this case, and whom I have no quarrels with, could not believe that the prosecution could accept such a concession.

I have never dealt with any Police officer above the rank of Constable throughout the case before or since.

The man was then released again on bail until the 10th January 2005 at Preston Crown Court for sentencing, where His Honour Judge Smith was presiding. I have the transcript. Even he questioned the decisions to enter into a plea, and through further failings in the prosecution and the defence had to send the case to Burnley Crown Court on the 27th January 2005 to be heard by the original trial judge His Honour Judge Badley.

HH Judge Smith said the pre-sentence report had also been compiled on a wholly false basis.

What happened next just goes beyond belief. After looking at everything and hearing what damage this man had caused my family, HH Judge Badley sentenced the man to only six months in jail on 27th January at Burnley.

The man was even allowed to intimidate me, my older son and my advocate friend in the court buildings.

I have no faith in our Justice system at all, and feel so let down by all this. I have tried to get this into the court of appeal, but it seems the laws need changing as at this time, child abduction cases cannot be referred for unduly lenient sentences and I intend to lobby the Government to change this law.

I have now demanded that the other two counts of abduction be heard, as I believe that the bargain that was entered into was made on a wholly false basis and the prosecution need to answer some serious questions about this.

My Labour MP for Blackpool South, Mr Gordon Marsden, is 100 per cent behind me in this. I will not stop until I get justice and some straight answers. Plus I believe the public need to know and have a right to know about this, as do other parents whose children may meet strange adults in Blackpool, and around the country.

I am asking you from the bottom of my heart to please help me get the publicity I need to put pressure in the right places and obtain justice for my family.

A Blackpool parent (name and address supplied).

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