pounds 50,000 dilemma over freed killer

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The Independent Online
Robert Oliver served 10 years of a 15-year sentence after being convicted of the murder of 14-year-old Jason Swift, who was throttled and gang-raped in a flat in east London, writes Glenda Cooper.

Since his release he has been hounded from town to town, with one force having to shoulder a bill of more than pounds 50,000 for keeping him in a cell after he sought refuge, fearing revenge attacks by the public.

His case illustrates the debate over whether convicted sex offenders should be able to live in the community and, if so, whether people should be informed.

Oliver was released from Wandsworth prison in September and registered on the national paedophile register. He has been hounded out of Swindon, London, Dublin, Liverpool and Manchester. He cut his hair and wore glasses to avoid recognition, but when he arrived in Brighton, social services sent letters to the parents of 27,000 children in the town. He told the Evening Argus: "I am frightened for my life. It feels like a lynch mob is out there waiting to get me." As a result, he ended up in the police cell for four months for his own protection. Sussex police estimate it cost the public pounds 50,000 to keep him under lock and key. Sex-offender treatment clinics initially refused to take responsibility for Oliver, although yesterday Sussex police confirmed that he had moved out of the area and was at a medium-secure forensic unit where, although he has his own room and en suite bathroom, he is treated under lock and key.

Asked why this clinic had admitted Oliver when others had refused, a spokeswoman for the clinic said: "Any patient admitted has to meet specific criteria for admission and Mr Oliver will have met these criteria." The police said: "He has agreed voluntarily to go to an assessment centre and we are looking for a long-term solution to his situation."