Craig Sweeney

Craig Sweeney

Craig Sweeney (born c.1982) is a Welsh child sex offender, from Newport in Wales.

Crime

Sweeney was found guilty of the abduction and sexual assault of a three year-old girl. He was known to the victim's family, whom he had befriended weeks before the crime. Sweeney was released on licence in late 2005 after serving a term in jail for indecently assaulting a six-year-old in April 2003. While on licence, he was accused of inappropriately touching a child's bottom, but the police and probation workers did not return him to prison, despite his "risk of harm" being raised to "high".

Sweeney abducted the girl on January 2, 2006, two days after his licence had expired. He drove her to his Newport flat where he was living on licence. He was caught the day after, when he crashed his car during a high speed chase initiated after Sweeney jumped a red light. The girl, who was in the crash with him, survived with minor injuries.

Sweeney admitted four charges of kidnapping, 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".

Imprisonment

He was sentenced to life in prison with a tariff of 10 years, and will be considered for parole after five years and 108 days. The tariff was so because of his co-operation with the police and his guilty plea, as well as the time he had spent in custody awaiting trial. On July 10, 2006, it was decided that the case would not be referred to the high court of appeal, as the sentence had being compliant with the law. The victim's mother said she was "Gut-wrenchingly sick" at the decision.

Public criticism

The sentence created a moderate controversy in Wales. John Reid has called the sentence 'unduly lenient'. Then Prime Tony Blair has backed Reid with his criticism. Nick Clegg said it was "rank hypocrisy for John Reid to blame judges for sentences which are a direct consequence of recent legislation introduced by this government". Lord Morris of Aberavon QC, attorney general in the late 1990s, said he would have been "extremely annoyed" by Reid's intervention. Ex-High Court judge Sir Oliver Popplewell said: "I think it's unwise for the home secretary to poke his nose into legal affairs." Lord Ramsbotham urged Blair "to shut up" and accused him of enacting policy changes which caused more problems than they solved. The girl's mother has called for tougher sentences.

References

External links

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