South East Wales

'Sarah's Law' call after child rapist Jeffrey Goodwyn freed

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Media captionJon Brown from the NSPCC said it was critical that Goodwyn was monitored

Communities should know where a child rapist is living, says a children's charity after a judge ruled it was unlawful to keep him locked up.

Jeffrey Charles Goodwyn was given an indeterminate sentence by Cardiff Crown Court in 2012 for indecently assaulting a seven-year-old girl.

The 48-year-old had already served time for raping a nine-year-old girl.

After Goodwyn's sentence was quashed on appeal, the NSPCC said disclosure rules known as "Sarah's Law" should be used.

The comments come after the Court of Appeal ruled that indefinite jail terms could only be passed in the case of offences committed after 2005.

The lord chief justice Lord Thomas accepted that the sex offender "remains a very dangerous man".

"Because of his failure to engage with the relevant assistance available to him in prison, he has not begun to address his offending," said the judge.

But he said the legal problems surrounding the indeterminate sentence meant he had no choice but to quash the term.

He imposed a three-year custodial sentence on Goodwyn, which he has already served, followed by five years on licence.

The judge had held back his decision for a fortnight while Goodwyn's parole arrangements, including hostel accommodation, were put in place.

But the NSPCC charity said Goodwyn appeared to have been "released on a technicality", and now the disclosure scheme should come into play.

"Community members, individuals and families in the area where he is living should be notified, should be informed of his whereabouts," said Jon Brown, head of sexual abuse services at the charity.

"They can keep an eye out for him, they can really keep a close eye on their children, and ensure that if he is showing any behaviour that would leave cause for concern that the police can be notified immediately."

Image copyright PA
Image caption The family of Sarah Payne campaigned for the disclosure law after her death

Sarah's Law was introduced in the wake of the murder of eight-year-old Sarah Payne by a convicted sex offender in West Sussex in 2000.

The disclosure scheme means a parent or guardian can ask police if a person who has contact with children is a child sex offender.

Responding to concerns about Goodwyn, the Ministry of Justice has insisted that any sex offender released on licence is subject to meeting strict conditions, or will be recalled to prison.

Terms of release can include offenders having to wear an electronic tag that can track their exact location at any time.

"We have some of the toughest measures in the world to manage sex offenders in the community, and these work to prevent reoffending and protect the public," said a spokesperson.

Indeterminate prison sentences

An indeterminate prison sentence is where the court sets the minimum term of imprisonment an offender must serve before becoming eligible to be considered for release by the Parole Board. There are two types of indeterminate sentence: Imprisonment for life and Imprisonment for public protection.

A sentence of imprisonment for public protection was in force between 2005 and 2012 and could be imposed under section 225 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (as amended), where:

  • The offender is convicted of a serious sexual or violent offence which is punishable by imprisonment for life or a determinate period of 10 years or more
  • In the court's opinion the offender poses a significant risk to the public of serious harm by the commission of further specified offences
  • The offence is punishable with life imprisonment and the court is satisfied that the seriousness of the offence justifies such a sentence
  • The offender has a previous conviction for an offence listed in schedule 15A to the Criminal Justice Act 2003 or the current offence warrants a notional minimum term of at least two years
  • Once an offender has served the minimum term set by the court, the Parole Board will decide whether the offender can be released
  • If an offender serving an IPP is released, they will be subject to an IPP licence and may be recalled to prison if at any point they are considered a risk to the public. After 10 years (and yearly after this if unsuccessful), an offender may apply for their licence to be cancelled. This decision is at the discretion of the Parole Board.

Source: Sentencing Council

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