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Last Updated: Friday, 4 February, 2005, 16:30 GMT
A one-man crime wave?
By Betsan Powys
Reporter, BBC Panorama

Paul Wyatt was one of Goad's victims
Paul Wyatt was one of Goad's victims
"Crime wave" were the words John Livingstone chose the first time round. When it came to the interview he used another: "carnage". He should know.

John Livingstone is a Detective Constable from Plymouth's Child Protection Team - the team who investigated William "Bill" Goad, the man dubbed Britain's most prolific paedophile.

He'd seen at first hand the consequences of Goad's offences, the damage one man had caused.

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Goad was sent to prison for life last October. But it took a long time to put him away - four decades during which he raped and threatened hundreds, perhaps thousands of boys.

How had he got away with it for so long? Had he caused a crime wave? Could we trace the impact he'd had - not just on his victims - but on a city? Could we weigh up the wider costs to society and reveal a story that told us something new?

Ian thought so. So did Paul and Ray. They were all raped by Bill Goad as boys - abuse that went on and on.

Within a year or so, they'd gone on to take drugs and to commit more offences than they can remember.

I checked and counted. Between them the men sitting in front of me had broken the law nearly 150 times. They are prolific, violent offenders. The tattoos and skinheads are certainly drawing attention in the hotel lobby.

"Would I have gone on to commit crimes anyway? I don't know, do I?" says Ian.

Judge William Taylor
Judge William Taylor, the recorder of Plymouth
Fair point. It's one that's made by someone else too - His Honour Judge William Taylor, the recorder of Plymouth, sent Bill Goad to prison for life.

He was treading carefully in saying: "I can't talk about individual cases. But when I looked up to the gallery that day I recognised a lot of faces that had been before me again and again and again..."

In other words he'd seen the consequences of Goad's abuse in his courtroom again and again. "Is there a link?" Judge Taylor is clear: He tells us to look at the paperwork. Of the 17 men who gave evidence against Goad, every single one was known to the police.

Apart from one minor offence for shoplifting, none of them had offended before they were abused.

That was his way of saying "yes". His interview was a short, sharp shock to anyone who thinks judges don't care.

What else did we learn in Plymouth? That child protection still is not a priority for police and never will be until we recognise the hidden costs.

That if you have turned into a violent offender yourself, then being raped at eight years old is a "good mitigating circumstance" when it comes to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority awarding you any money.

And that Ian thinks you will dismiss him because he used to be a smackhead.

I hope he is wrong.

Panorama: Crime Wave was broadcast at 2215GMT on Sunday, February 7, 2005 on BBC One.



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