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Liverpool Echo
Liverpool Echo
Patrick Edrich

Judge criticises police as dangerous paedophile free to strike again

A judge has criticised the police for allowing a dangerous paedophile free to sexually assault a six-year-old girl who he snatched from a park.

Predator Lewis Jones, 24, was arrested by Merseyside Police after grooming and sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl he met through Snapchat in 2020. He was still under investigation two years later and free to attack a little girl playing with other children in a park in Droylsden, Greater Manchester in August 2022.

Jones, formerly of Brocklebank Lane, Allerton, was deemed a dangerous offender as he was jailed for life with a minimum of 12 years before parole by Judge Hilary Manley. He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to four counts of sexual activity with a child and assault by penetration relating to a girl aged 12 and 13, and making indecent images of children between January and June 2020. He also admitted two counts of assault by penetration to the six-year-old in August last year.

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Passing sentence, Judge Manley said delays by police in charging and prosecuting offenders before they commit further crimes is "an extremely troubling state of affairs" and this case was an "egregious example". She said: "The net result is, in this case, this defendant, if he had been charged when he should have been, would not have been at liberty to abduct this six-year-old girl. That’s the cold facts of the case."

Jones was under investigation after he groomed a vulnerable girl on Snapchat. Aged 21 at the time, the predator claimed to be a Year 10 school pupil and had sex with the 12-year-old. The effects on the girl were "catastrophic" and she now lives in care. When Jones was arrested police found 102 child abuse images on his phone involving girls as young as nine.

He was then released by police and went to live with his dad, who had moved from Liverpool to Manchester, where he carried out the second attack. Vanessa Thomson, prosecuting, told the court: "It appears that it took two years to build a file and then that failed internal police triage anyway, due to personnel, retirement and third-party records."

Merseyside Police this morning said it would be undertaking a formal review of the circumstances which led to the delay in bringing charges against Jones after his first crime. Assistant Chief Constable Mark Kameen said: "We acknowledge the comments made by Judge Manley in the sentencing of Lewis Jones with regards to the time it took Merseyside Police to bring charges against Jones for the offence he committed in Merseyside.

"We absolutely owe it to the victims of sexual offences to ensure that we fundamentally develop and improve the way we work. It's only right and proper that we establish what happened in this case and therefore we will undertake a formal review of the circumstances which led to the delay in bringing charges.

A girl was kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a depraved paedophile who had been taking pictures of her and her friends while they played together. (MEN MEDIA)

"We are committed to delivering an effective and timely justice for all victims, particularly the most vulnerable, which includes children. Our thoughts at this time are with the victims and their families, who will never get over the impact of the heinous offences committed by Jones, and I would like to reassure them that I will personally oversee the review."

Manchester Crown Court heard yesterday how Jones abducted the six-year-old girl from a field near the side of her sister's house. The court heard how he sat on a bench watching the children, taking photos and talking on his phone. He removed his t-shirt at one point which revealed a distinctive tattoo on his chest - an identifying factor later recounted to police.

He snatched the young girl and ran away with her to a disused railway path. A police search was launched and the girl was found a short time later after wandering into a house. She was bruised and bloodied - and examinations revealed she was a victim of sexual assault.

In a statement to the court, the girl’s mum said her daughter’s behaviour has seen a "significant" deterioration with chronic separation anxiety and always wanting to be with her parents, is anxious, wary of males, will not play outside and has “completely shut down”.

She added: "The heartache I feel is immense. I feel very angry that he has done this to us. I feel disgusted and rage almost daily."


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