Beds, Herts & Bucks

Rapist Steven Van de Velde's remarks condemned by NSPCC

Steven Van de Velde Image copyright Federation Internationale de Volleyball
Image caption Steven Van de Velde was aware of the girl's age, having had conversations on various social media sites

A children's charity has condemned comments from Dutch volleyball player Steven Van de Velde after his early release from a prison sentence for the rape a 12-year-old British girl.

He was jailed for four years last March after admitting three counts of rape against a child in Milton Keynes.

He was allowed to return to the Netherlands to complete his sentence and has been released after a year.

The NSPCC said his "lack of remorse and self-pity is breathtaking".

Upon his release, Van de Velde reportedly said: "I have been branded as a sex monster, as a paedophile. That I am not, really not."

The 22-year-old also said he might consider a return to playing volleyball for the Dutch national team.

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Van de Velde was a beach volleyball champion in 2015

Van de Velde, who met the girl on Facebook, travelled from Amsterdam to the UK in August 2014. He raped the girl near Furzton Lake, and at an address in Milton Keynes.

The court heard he was aware of the girl's age and went to her home when her mother was out and had sex with her, taking her virginity.

The NSPCC said: "Van de Velde's lack of remorse and self-pity is breathtaking and we can only begin to imagine how distressed his victim must feel if she sees his comments.

"Grooming can leave a child feeling ashamed or even guilty because they believe they have somehow willingly participated when, in fact, an adult has preyed upon them in order to sexually exploit them."

'Back on track'

Van de Velde returned to the Netherlands after the rape, but was extradited and arrested in January 2016.

It is understood that the authorities in the Netherlands do not extradite Dutch nationals without receiving a guarantee that the person will be returned if sentenced.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "It is this government's policy that foreign national offenders should serve their sentences in their own country wherever possible.

"All foreign national offenders given a custodial sentence are referred for consideration for deportation at the earliest possible opportunity."

Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Van de Velde had been due to go to the Olympics in Brazil

The Dutch Volleyball Association said Van de Velde's main focus was "getting his life back on track", rather than a return to his playing career.

"For us it is too early in his process to conclude anything with regard to volleyball," a statement said.

"With regard to any future decisions to be made, we'll be guided by Dutch law,"

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