New law will tighten control of sex offenders

 

Child protection agencies in Northern Ireland are celebrating after a campaign to have a loophole in child sex offender legislation closed met with success.

A new Bill to be introduced later this year in the House of Commons will mean that convicted child abusers from outside the UK, including the Republic, will have to sign on a sex offenders' register in Northern Ireland for the first time and inform police at all times of their address.

The campaign was launched by a Belfast Sunday newspaper after a Belfast girl, Michelle Erwin, now 15, waived her anonymity.

She highlighted the fact that her uncle, Billy Adams, who is due to be released from Magilligan Prison, Co Derry, next Friday, after serving a 12-year sentence for raping her in his Dublin flat over a three- week period in 1996 will now be covered under the new law.

Under current law, he would not have had to sign on a sex offenders' register in the North because the offence was committed in the Republic.

Adams had begun his sentence in the Republic, but had requested and received a transfer to his native Northern Ireland "to be closer to his family"; but also to take advantage of the more generous remission granted to prisoners in the UK.

The new law will also mean that another convicted child abuser, Vincent McKenna, from Co Tyrone, who is currently serving a six-year sentence in the Republic for abusing his daughter in Monaghan over an eight-year period, will also have to sign on the register when released, if he re-enters Northern Ireland.