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Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 15:55 GMT 16:55 UK
Child sex snatch jailing 'insult'
Craig Sweeney
Craig Sweeney was known to his victim's family
The family of a child kidnapped by a convicted paedophile on early release has said his sentence is "an insult".

Craig Sweeney, 24, kidnapped a girl, aged three, from her home in Cardiff in January 2006 before attacking her.

He was jailed for life and told he should not be considered for parole for at least five years.

The home secretary is to write to the attorney general to ask him to consider referring the sentence to the Court of Appeal as "unduly lenient".

His victim's family said it was angry with this punishment.

Anne Tyson, solicitor representing the victim's family, said: "The family believes today's sentence is an insult to their three-year-old daughter and that there are grave failings in the criminal justice system that need to be urgently addressed."

Police in the Rumney area of Cardiff on Wednesday
House-to-house inquiries in Rumney following the abduction

Relatives are calling for a government review of sentencing guidelines for crimes of this nature and to increase sentences given to paedophiles.

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.

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.

The licence on which he had been granted early release from a jail term for indecently assaulting a six-year-old girl, had expired two days before.

Sentencing him to life in jail at Cardiff Crown Court, Judge John Griffith Williams QC said he would not be considered for parole for five years - and only then if he did not pose a significant risk of re-offending.

"You have shown yourself to be a thoroughly devious man. You kidnapped this little girl for your own sexual gratification," he said.

Her mother has said it has been worse than a death in the family. She will never get over it
Judge John Griffith Williams QC

"You subjected her to an extremely painful ordeal. It beggars belief.

"This little girl has changed from a talkative and bubbly little girl into a distant, moody and depressed child.

"Her mother has said it has been worse than a death in the family. She will never get over it."

The court heard in April how the child was snatched from her house in Rumney, Cardiff on the evening of 2 January.

She was driven away to Sweeney's flat in Newport where she was sexually attacked.

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 drove erratically at speeds of up to 100mph with the girl in the car.

Officers search a house in south Wales
Sweeney admitted carrying out sex assaults at this Newport flat

Susan Ferrier, prosecuting, has said he travelled mainly on the wrong side of the road and at one point sped straight at an articulated lorry before swerving away at the last minute.

He then saw a police helicopter above him swerved violently down a bank.

Sweeney was arrested at the roadside of the A4 near Marlborough, and police then noticed the girl was lying at the side of the road where he had hurled her from the car.

Ms Ferrier said of the girl: "She was asking 'is the nasty man gone?'"

The toddler suffered minor injuries as a result of being thrown from the car but needed hospital treatment for other "significant" injuries inflicted by Sweeney.

'Depravity'

Sweeney admitted four charges of kidnap, three of sexual assault and one of dangerous driving.

His defence counsel said he had "shown remorse when arrested and was distressed at the depravity at what he had done".

Sweeney kept his head bowed throughout most of the sentencing hearing on Monday and showed no emotion.

Gwent Multi Agency Public Protection Panel Strategic Management Board has said it is reviewing the responses of agencies involved in managing the risk of released prisoners re-offending.


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The family's solicitor gives her reaction to the sentence



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