Page last updated at 15:07 GMT, Monday, 8 September 2008 16:07 UK

Escaped killer raped schoolgirl

Hayes Hospital
Harkin raped a teenage girl when he escaped from a low security unit

A man who escaped from a secure private hospital near Bristol and raped a 14-year-old girl has been sent to the maximum security hospital, Broadmoor.

Darren Harkin, 21, dragged the schoolgirl off the street at knifepoint in Chepstow, Monmouthshire, before raping her in February.

Reading Crown Court heard Hayes Hospital staff allowed the mentally-ill patient to view horror films.

Harkin, who killed his baby stepbrother in 2000, was jailed indefinitely.

The court heard that Harkin, who also suffers from autistic spectrum disorder, was allowed to build a vast collection of horror and pornographic DVDs while he was detained.

He was being held at the low-security Hayes Hospital, in the village of Pilning near Bristol, for stabbing his six-month-old stepbrother David to death in his cot and cutting off his hand eight years ago.

How on earth could it be thought appropriate that someone who had done such a thing could access horror films?
Recorder Nicholas Cooke QC

Harkin was aged 12 when he carried out the killing and then calmly walked to the local police station in Bristol where he confessed.

The court heard that Harkin's behaviour had started to deteriorate by early 2008 resulting in him being put on 24-hour watch.

It was decided that he should not be left alone with female members of staff after he asked a woman who worked there for sex.

He asked if there was "anyone else available" when his request was refused.

Along with two counts of rape, Harkin admitted charges of escaping from lawful custody and burglary.

The Recorder of Cardiff, Nicholas Cooke QC, raised concerns over why Harkin, who had a history of absconding, was moved to a low-security unit and why staff did not immediately tell police he had escaped.

"I have little doubt that the judge that sentenced him would have been very horrified had he been told that this would lead in due course to him having unrestricted access to horror films and pornographic material," the recorder said.

"How on earth could it be thought appropriate that someone who had done such a thing could access horror films?"

'External review'

Harkin was given a hospital order after pleading guilty to manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility at Bristol Crown Court in April 2001.

He was then detained in several mental health units before being transferred in January 2007 to Hayes, an independent hospital for adults managed by the National Autistic Society.

The Recorder, Nicholas Cooke, ordered that Harkin, whom he described as "exceptionally dangerous", be made the subject of a hospital order under the Mental Health Act without limit of time and be detained at maximum security Broadmoor Hospital.

The National Autistic Society and Bristol Primary Care Trust are conducting an independent external review.

Mark Lever, of the National Autistic Society, said: "A full independent external review is already under way led by the country's foremost expert in this field to examine the circumstances around this incident."

Man accused of raping girl of 14
06 Feb 08 |  Bristol/Somerset

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific