Page last updated at 15:32 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 16:32 UK

Paedophile 'slipped under radar'

Patrick Brendon Smith Photo: Daily Post
Smith went under the name Patrick Reilly when jailed in Lancashire

A child rapist only received a year sentence for attacking a paper girl because a court was unaware of his previous convictions, it has emerged.

Patrick Brendon Smith was jailed for 12 years in Ireland for attacks, and then another six years for more offences.

A judge said he was "very concerned" the UK police computer had been updated but the courts had not been informed.

Smith was given an indefinite sentence at Caernarfon Crown Court for trying to groom two girls for sex in Wrexham.

Probation officials admit there were "gaps" in information when it came to housing him at a hostel in the town.

We rely on information provided to us by the police on the issue of previous convictions. In this case, we didn't have any information
Crown Prosecution Service

Smith, 44, pleaded guilty to the grooming charges last month, sparking a protest at the Plas y Wern probation hostel in Plas Madoc by angry residents.

They have been bitterly opposed to the centre housing known sex offenders so close to the housing estate.

The Probation Service, which runs the Plas y Wern hostel said the case had "highlighted a number of issues including the fact that there were gaps in the information supplied to north Wales probation area about Smith's offending background".

Sex offences

But BBC Wales has discovered that the courts which dealt with him when his was last jailed in Lancashire were also unaware of Smith's horrific past.

Smith, who is originally from County Meath in Ireland, was jailed for 12 years in 1998 after being convicted of raping a seven-year-old girl.

Smith then set up home in Blackpool in 2008, shortly after being released from a further six year jail sentence in Ireland for sexual attacks on a 13-year-old girl and a 58-year-old woman.

Living in the seaside town under the name of Patrick Reilly, within weeks he dragged a 13-year-old paper girl to the ground while on her early morning round, demanded sex and threatened to kill her.

He was arrested and finally sentenced in October 2008.

A spokesperson for the Crown Prosecution Service told BBC Wales: "This person was prosecuted under the name of Patrick Reilly, and we were not aware of his previous convictions.

"We rely on information provided to us by the police on the issue of previous convictions.

"In this case, we didn't have any information."

However, it emerged at Friday's sentencing hearing at Caernarfon Crown Court, that prior to being sentenced in Preston, information about Smith's rape offences had been updated on to the UK's police national database.

Plas Madoc Estate near Wrexham
Smith's probation hostel is just a few hundred metres from Plas Madoc

"The information reached the police national computer, but the court was not informed of its existence for a reason for which there is no explanation," said the sentencing judge in Caernarfon, Merfyn Hughes QC.

He said that he was "very concerned" about the issue.

Responding to the case, a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said: ""We note the comments made by the judge in this case.

"Cleary, we will always look to see if lessons can be learned from individual cases but we would make the point that at the time of concluding our files for the Crown Prosecution Service we provided all of the information that was currently available to us."

'Significant risk'

The court heard that Smith was arrested at the Plas y Wern hostel in January this year, after trying to persuade a 12-year-old and a 13-year-old girl to meet him in a pub car park at Acrefair.

He offered to "take them for a spin" in his car, and offered to buy them alcohol, said prosecutor Andrew Green.

"They said no because they had school the next day," said Mr Green.

"However, he persisted and they agreed to meet him later that week."

But one of the girls "went straight home and told her mother what had happened", added the prosecution.

Smith pleaded guilty to two offences of trying to arrange or facilitate sexual activity with a child.

Sentencing, Judge Hughes said Smith's previous convictions and pre-sentence reports convinced him that the sex offender was a "significant risk of serious harm" to the public.

He said an assessment of Smith placed him at a "very high risk of reoffending, a high risk of sexual offending, and it is believed that the risk to young females is very high".

The judge said he would be imposing a sentence of imprisonment for public protection.

It means Smith must serve a minimum jail term of two years and three months before he can apply for parole.

However, a parole board must then consider whether he still poses a risk, and Smith will stay in prison until he is no longer a public threat.

"A considerable amount of time would be required before you have addressed your factors to a sufficient degree," added Judge Hughes.



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SEE ALSO
MP 'let down' over sex offender
13 May 09 |  North East Wales
Freed rapist tried to groom girls
12 May 09 |  North East Wales
Fresh paedophile hostel protest
22 Jul 06 |  North East Wales
MP's paedophile hostel worries
10 Jun 05 |  North East Wales

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