High-risk sex offender goes on run

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A CONVICTED sex offender described by police as an "ultra-high risk" to children was on the run last night after being allowed to travel on a train alone.

Michael Wilson, 38, who is on the sex offenders register and has been banned from talking to anyone under the age of 18 for five years, jumped bail during an unaccompanied 40-mile train journey. Yesterday the police and social services both disclaimed responsibility for the blunder. Wilson, who has convictions for sex offences against boys, has not been seen since boarding a train in Accrington, Lancashire, and heading for Liverpool on Monday afternoon.

Police have taken the unusual step of naming Wilson and issuing photographs of him to forces throughout the country as the hunt is extended. Merseyside Police is even considering distributing Wilson's portrait to schools and playgroups.

His previous convictions, which date back to 1983, include violence and sex offences, including gross indecency with a child and indecent assault. He is also banned from school grounds and children's homes.

Detective Inspector Tony Harling, of Accrington police, said: "He is an ultra-high risk sex offender with numerous previous convictions against young males. It is an unusual step for us to name him, but it is because of his history of re-offending. We believe it is in the interests of the public that they should be informed."

Wilson was the subject of a sex offender order, which allows police to impose conditions on his movements. Under the order, imposed by Southport magistrates last month, he is not allowed to talk to anyone under 18 for five years. If he wants to speak to any child or youth he needs permission from a chief constable.

Wilson had been transferred from a Merseyside bail hostel where probation officers felt he was in danger after a national newspaper article identified him as a sex offender. He absconded on Monday while returning to the Merseyside hostel to be sentenced after he pleaded guilty to burglary and being drunk and disorderly.

Wilson was in the care of Merseyside probation service at the time he went missing and was placed on the train to travel by himself at 3.15pm on Monday. The service said yesterday that he was not under its responsibility and the conditions of bail did not say probation staff had to accompany him back to Liverpool.

Dr Lawrence Singer, assistant chief probation officer, said: "Southport magistrates, having assessed his risk, did not decide to remand him in custody. They allowed him to travel freely to the Liverpool hostel ... when he was removed he was escorted by Merseyside Police at Merseyside probation's request."

Lancashire Constabulary said that the probation service had not asked police to escort Wilson on the train, so he was allowed to travel alone.

Wilson, originally from the Halifax area of West Yorkshire, is white, 5ft 4in, with a tanned complexion, shaven head and a scar on the left side of his face.