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Last Updated: Monday, 10 July 2006, 21:34 GMT 22:34 UK
Family 'sick' at Sweeney ruling
Craig Sweeney
Craig Sweeney sexually abused and kidnapped a young girl
The mother of a girl abused by a paedophile has said a decision not to refer his sentence to the Court of Appeal is a "terrible blow".

In a statement, she said the decision not to review Craig Sweeney's sentence had left her "gut-wrenchingly sick".

In a case which sparked furore, Sweeney was sentenced to life but can apply for parole after five years and 108 days.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said he had concluded the sentence was not "unduly lenient".

Lord Goldsmith said he had given careful consideration to the facts and had received advice from independent specialist solicitors on the sentence imposed.

He said the decision on whether to release Sweeney is now with the Parole Board and as a result the paedophile may never be released.

"The judge was, however, also required to set a 'minimum term', that is to say a term before the Parole Board could even consider that question," he said.

"In setting that term, he acted within existing sentencing guidance and law. Given his past history, Sweeney may never be released."

Home Secretary John Reid had asked Lord Goldsmith to re-examine the "unduly lenient" sentence.

On Monday, a Home Office spokesman said Mr Reid "stood by his views".

'Too horrific'

A statement on behalf of the three-year-old victim's mother, from Cardiff, was released by her solicitor.

It said: "We are gut-wrenchingly sick at today's announcement.

If the likes of him, who pose such a high risk to children, are let out too soon again, this will happen again and again
Victims' mother

"This case is too horrific to know the details, but we can tell you that Sweeney was literally found with our child's blood on his hands.

"This really started because a convicted paedophile was released too soon from prison.

"If the likes of him, who pose such a high risk to children, are let out too soon again, this will happen again and again.

"When it does, the politicians and everyone else involved here will also have blood on their hands.

"We are sad that instead of working together to protect children, some politicians and members of judiciary have used our child's tragedy to score 'who's the boss' points.

"Whoever wins this battle, our children lose. This has been a terrible blow to us and we would respectfully ask that we be left alone to take in all that has happened."

Government-judiciary friction

The original sentence, handed down at Cardiff Crown Court, caused friction between the government and the judiciary after Mr Reid's intervention.

There were subsequent reports that Lord Goldsmith was angered by the intervention as he feared it could jeopardise his chances of appealing against the sentence.

But the family of the victim supported the home secretary and called on the government and judiciary to make sure such crimes were "properly punished".

Nick Robinson, the BBC's political editor, said the attorney general and home secretary agreed that the case was a cause for public concern.

But he said Mr Reid believed the judge was at fault, whereas Lord Goldsmith blamed the system of sentencing guidelines.

"The difficulty for both is that they are in the government that passed these sentencing guidelines; they're in the government that set these laws," he said.

Car chase

Sweeney - who was known to the family - had snatched the girl from her home after she had returned home from a shopping trip and while her mother made a telephone call.

Sweeney snatched the child from the Rumney area of Cardiff.

He drove her to his Newport flat where he was living after being released early from a three-year sentence for indecently assaulting a girl aged six. There she was sexually assaulted.

She was only found by police hours later in Wiltshire, after a car chase prompted by Sweeney having no lights on his car and jumping red lights.

He was driving erratically at speeds of up to 100mph with the girl in the car.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The mother of Craig Sweeney's victim speaks out



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