200 Sex monsters prowling in Ireland

3 June 2001
Jason Johnson

GARDAI fear there are up to 200 serious sex offenders roaming free in Ireland - and they have no way of wiping out the massive risk of them re-offending. Among the rag-bag of sickos are child sex offenders and serial rapists who have shattered hundreds of young lives between them.

In private briefings sources told us they believe there are 'dangerous paedophiles in every county in the State' and that a significant number of them may have fled here from Britain or Northern Ireland.

Child safety experts have long said that the most dangerous sex offenders will go wherever they have to go in order to live undetected. In the last few years Gardai have become increasingly frustrated with the legal machinery in the Republic. The laws as they stand mean men - and in some cases, women - who would be officially marked day and night elsewhere are free to roam.

Serious offenders include:

  • 37-year-old John Anthony Joseph Mallon, who hails from Belfast. He served 18 months of a three year sentence in Northern Ireland for the attempted buggery and indecent assault of a 16-year-old boy. He is on the RUC's Sex Offenders Register indefinitely and is believed to be living in Sligo town.
  • 56-year-old Raymond Hewlett, who had last been seen in Co Louth two years ago. He's wanted for questioning about a number of incidents in the Republic. Hewlett was at one stage suspected of being behind the murder of an 11-year-old girl 25 years ago in Britain. 

Although Justice Minister John O'Donoghue has promised a UK-style Sex Offenders' Register for Ireland, the country has already been long seen as a key place to 'disappear'. "Ireland has come up in many conversations between career paedophiles in Britain and we know that from talking to British police," a senior detective told us. "Between the arrival of these fellas here and the Irish ones we know about, we're talking in the region of a couple of hundred men - and the number is rising all the time."

Last week the Irish Sunday People named and shamed sex monster Amos Brown, who hails from Ballymena, Co Antrim. Gardai know he is lurking in Co Cavan, close to the Northern Ireland border, but that he has spent time in several counties. He is one of the worst offenders with one of the worst records for sex abuse anywhere on these islands. Yet, despite the catalogue of horror which has left the 37-year-old a marked man in the North, he is legally clean as a whistle in the Republic. Brown's crimes include brutally raping a cleaning lady at knifepoint and abusing at least four young children - one of them aged just two. Gardai are keeping an eye on him, but fears are high among those who know his past that he might strike again. His crimes in the UK only came to light when Gardai were tipped off by RUC detectives when he crossed the border.

One top Garda source told us: "There are people who are no strangers to sex crimes, the courts and prison but who breathe a sigh of relief when they come to Ireland. "The situation is monitored but there is an overwhelming sense of powerlessness. Officially we just have to put our hands in the air and wish them a nice time."

Gardai now believe more than 20 'high-risk' British paedophiles have entered Ireland in the last five years. British police regularly tip off authorities here and although gardai feel they know where more than 80 per cent of known paedophiles are living, they still feel the system is 'unreliable.'

Paul Gilligan, chief executive of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, said: "The evidence is strong from police officers and social workers that some abusers have already come into the country and gone to ground. "There is a definite perception that Ireland is a haven for their kind."

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