Paedophile wins right to High Court freedom bid

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The Independent Online
A PAEDOPHILE, who caused a public outcry when he escaped during a supervised visit to a children's theme park, is fighting a legal battle to be allowed to leave the secure hospital where he is being held.

Trevor Holland, who is described by police and doctors as violent, abusive and "a risk to society," yesterday won a High Court challenge against the legality of a decision by a mental health tribunal to keep him in hospital.

Holland won a new hearing after his lawyers submitted there was a loophole in the law and that, because he is untreatable, his detention in hospital is unlawful.

North Thames Mental Health Review Tribunal yesterday conceded that there had been "an inadequacy of reasons" in its decision last January to deny Holland his freedom and agreed to a new hearing.

Originally from Lancashire, Holland caused a public outcry two years ago after escaping from custody while on an escorted visit to Chessington World of Adventures, a children's theme park in Surrey, as part of an attempt at rehabilitation.

The paedophile is at present detained at the Eric Shepherd secure unit, run by the Horizon NHS Trust at Abbots Langley, Hertfordshire, after absconding from Harperbury Hospital near St Albans.

He had been sent to the hospital in 1996 in terms of the Mental Health Act after being convicted of an affray at a public house in Oxford just a few weeks after his release from jail.

He had served less than half of a three-year sentence imposed for gross indecency with a child.

Holland, 54, who has used other names over the years, has a long history of offending and doctors have warned he continues to pose a risk to children.

His record includes 11 offences of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, as well as offences in 1992 and 1994 of indecency and attempting to procure an act of gross indecency.

A 1985 conviction related to an assault on a 14-year-old boy who resisted his advances.

One of the doctors responsible for Holland told the tribunal that if he did not receive any form of treatment, it was possible his criminal activities "may become more serious in future."

The tribunal had concluded Holland was "treatable" because he had given indications that he had "an intellectual and emotional grasp" of the issues in his case which, "with an element of self-scrutiny, could lead to change."

However, Mr Justice Forbes indicated that he had found the tribunal's reasoning "opaque" and suggested it might like to reconsider its position.

He welcomed the rehearing and described the case as raising "a very interesting and difficult matter."