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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 16:54 GMT 17:54 UK
Sweeney case police disciplined
Craig Sweeney
Sweeney abducted the three-year-old girl from her home
Two South Wales Police officers have been disciplined over their actions in the hunt for a paedophile who kidnapped and sexually assaulted a toddler.

Convicted paedophile Craig Sweeney kidnapped the three-year-old girl from her Cardiff home in January 2006.

An official report criticised the way the case had been handled and after a hearing on Wednesday, an inspector and superintendent received a reprimand.

The girl's mother said she was "deeply disappointed" at their punishment.

Life sentence

Sweeney, 24, snatched the girl, known as Child A, from her home in the Rumney area of Cardiff on 2 January 2006.

He drove her to his flat in Newport and sexually assaulted her before driving down the M4 and assaulting her again in a lay-by near Swindon.

We want a proper and comprehensive light shone on this whole tragedy - only then can the real lessons from it be properly learnt
Child A's mother

He eventually lost control of his car as he was pursued by police in the early hours of 3 January and crashed between Hungerford and Marlborough nearly 90 miles from the girl's home.

She had suffered "significant other injuries" from the sex attack and asked medics looking after her: "Is the nasty man gone?"

Sweeney was jailed for life in June 2006, but his sentence caused controversy when he was told he could apply for parole in five years and 108 days.

After he was sentenced, the child's family released a statement through their lawyer saying: "We are extremely unhappy about the way South Wales Police initially handled this incident."

The IPCC concluded their investigation into the complaint last July. At the time, IPCC Wales Commissioner Tom Davies said South Wales Police had made the mistake of not considering whether the abduction had been carried out for sexual motives when it was first reported.

It partially upheld a complaint by the girl's family about the speed with which South Wales Police responded to their daughter's abduction.

Apology

The IPCC recommended officers involved face a misconduct panel.

That hearing, which was held in front of chief police officers from outside Wales and an independent member of the public, finished on Wednesday and decided to "formally reprimand" the inspector and superintendent involved.

Barbara Wilding, chief constable of South Wales Police, said: "The family of Child A have been regularly updated by South Wales Police in the lead-up to the misconduct hearing.

"The child's father attended the hearing throughout and is aware of the decisions taken by the panel."

Miss Wilding met the girl's family last July and apologised in person.

A South Wales Police spokeswoman said: "In a statement issued at the time, the chief constable acknowledged that South Wales Police had not met its usual high standards."

'Living nightmare'

Speaking following the hearing, the three-year-old girl's mother expressed disappointment with the result.

She said: "There is no victory in today's decision, just a tiny little girl wondering where the police were when she needed them.

"We are pleased that the officers were found guilty, but deeply disappointed at the resulting punishment for their parts in our child's living nightmare.

"From the moment that monster Sweeney took our child, we have struggled to understand why the police did not protect her, why the justice system would not properly punish her attacker and why none of us can get any of the help we needed to survive and recover from this ordeal.

"We want a proper and comprehensive light shone on this whole tragedy - only then can the real lessons from it be properly learnt."


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