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Tuesday, June 15, 1999 Published at 14:42 GMT 15:42 UK


Protest at paedophile release

Nottingham Prison, where Smith is likely to be housed

Child abuse campaigners have spoken out against the impending release from prison of paedophile Lennie Smith.

Smith, 44, jailed for 10 years in 1992 for abusing a six-year-old boy he was babysitting, is considered by senior detectives to be one of Britain's most dangerous child abusers.

He is due to be released from Wakefield high security prison on Friday, and has reportedly volunteered to stay in a controversial new bedsit complex for released paedophiles being set up by the Home Office in Nottingham Prison.

[ image: NSPCC campaign for a
NSPCC campaign for a "full stop" to child abuse
Local people have protested at plans for the complex. On Monday evening there were clashes between demonstrators and police outside the jail.

Under the plans for the complex, the paedophiles, who have served their sentences, will be free to come and go, but will be kept under constant supervision.

However, local residents are concerned that their children could be in danger if an ex-offender decides to leave the jail.

Change in law urged

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has described Smith as one of a small group who pose "a very grave danger" to children.

The charity urged the government to consider a law in the US state of Kansas, which keeps "sexually violent predators" behind bars after the end of their sentences.

NSPCC Director and Chief Executive Jim Harding said that paedophiles who pose such a danger to children should not be released from prison until it could be shown that they were no longer a threat.

[ image: Murder victim Jason Swift]
Murder victim Jason Swift
He said the NSPCC had been campaigning for some time to get indeterminate sentences for child sex offenders, supported by treatment.

"If the authorities were able to keep such criminals in prison it would eliminate the kind of problem we are witnessing in Nottingham, where local people are, quite naturally, very worried," he said.

"The government is currently looking at this problem and we know they are taking it seriously. However, urgent action is needed to ensure men whose sole desire seems to be to abuse and hurt children are kept off the streets.

"We have to do everything in our power to protect children from these dangerous predators."

Norman Brennan, Director of the Victims of Crime Trust and a serving police officer with 21 years' experience, said the law concerning the release of paedophiles needed to be amended.

"We are being told by doctors and experts that paedophiles cannot be cured, so why are we allowing them back into the community?" he said.

"Why are we allowing these ticking time bombs out on the streets putting whole communities in fear?"

Part of a paedophile gang

At his Old Bailey trial in 1992, the judge, Mr Justice Mantell, said Smith's abuse of the youngster was "wicked" and had done him "lasting damage" from which he might never recover.

His abuse of the boy had come to light during Operation Orchid, a two-year police inquiry set up to investigate the abuse and deaths of a number of boys.

At the trial, Smith was named as being a member of a paedophile gang based in Hackney, east London, which is thought to be responsible for the deaths of at least three boys.

Another member of the gang, Leslie Bailey, was already serving life for the murder of six-year-old Barry Lewis and 15 years for the manslaughter of 14-year-old Jason Swift.

And a third member, Robert Oliver, who changed his name in jail, was released last year after serving a sentence for his part in Jason's killing.

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