Dangerous paedophile, 65, is smuggled to freedom

Click to follow
The Independent Online
A DANGEROUS paedophile, who threatened to return to a village where he carried out a campaign of sexual attacks on children for more than 30 years, was smuggled out of prison yesterday and taken to a secret address.

Rhys Hughes, 65, has agreed to move to accommodation outside the village after being warned he might face vigilante attacks if he went home.

Hughes, who served six years of a 10-year sentence for raping and assaulting children, had refused treatment in prison since his 1992 conviction. The Independent revealed last month that his prospective return had struck fear into residents of his former home village of Sonning Common, south Oxfordshire. One of his victims, who was four at the time of the attack, is now in her teens and still lives there.

Michael Biddulph, spokes-man for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire probation service said: "What we have been able to show him is that it is just not on to go back. We have got him to understand the situation in the village."

Because Hughes was sentenced before the Criminal Justice Act 1991 became law, he is free to come and go as he pleases. He will not be living in secure accommodation, although he will be under the supervision of officials and will have to keep police informed of his movements under the terms of the Sex Offenders Register. In case he later changes his mind and returns to Sonning Common, Thames Valley police are keeping a series of security measures designed to protect children.

These include a network of Sonning Common-based safe houses, set up in for children to run to if they feel in danger.

Police will also visit schools to advise pupils of the dangers and the measures they should use to avoid harm.

Phillip Marples, head teacher of Sonning Common Primary School, said the atmosphere in the village was now calm. "Some people have spoken to their children about the Hughes threat and some people did not," he said. "They felt that if he is not coming back there was no point in alarming their children about it."

Other freed paedophiles, including notorious child killers Robert Oliver and Sidney Cooke, have agreed to be locked up to protect them from mob fury.