A paedophile attacked a sleeping five year-old girl after his treatment programme was delayed – because staff were off SICK, it emerged today.
Daniel Veness, 23, was ordered to attend a course aimed at tackling his problems in March 2011 after being convicted of possessing over 600 child abuse images on his computer.
But a year after being freed with a three-year community order the pervert had still not joined the Thames Valley Treatment Programme because he had been away on HOLIDAY.
He was eventually given two start dates in March and October 2012 – but each time the scheme was postponed before the whole programme was scrapped because of “insufficient resources”.
Just three months later the fiend was found in possession of sick images on his phone of him sexually touching a five-year old while she slept.
Police found the abuse happened in March 2012 – at the very time he had been due to starting the programme.
Veness, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, was arrested and charged after a friend spotted the obscene photos and was jailed for two years and eight months in April.
And now probation officers have revealed that the treatment programme was delayed for SIX MONTHS because staff were on SICK LEAVE at the time.
A Freedom of Information request also revealed that there were another FIVE sex offenders due to start the same scheme before it was delayed – putting other vulnerable children at risk.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service – who run the programme – said there was no specific requirement as to when someone should begin the treatment.
They added that the only requirement is that the defendant should complete the programme by the end of their sentence.
But the blunder has now been slammed by both the local MP and the region Police and Crime Commisioner.
Conservative MP for Waveney, Peter Aldous, said: “I think it is highly unsatisfactory. I am very surprised and extremely disappointed that this information has come to light.
“If an offence is serious enough for someone to go on a treatment programme that should be carried out as soon as practically possible after their sentencing.
“I think in this instance a delay of six months before the course was reconstituted is not acceptable.”
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: “I find this approach quite extraordinary.
“As far as I am concerned as Police and Crime Commissioner one of the key roles is to look at the accountability and the public interest.
“While this delay may be within the law I would have thought common sense should have prevailed here and the required course or treatment would have been done straightaway.
“I don’t understand why the course should have been delayed for six months. I find the whole process absolutely ridiculous.”
Veness admitted to offences of sexual touching, taking indecent pictures of a child and downloading indecent images of children at Ipswich Crown Court in April.
He also pleaded guilty to breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and failing to notify police of a change in his address under the terms of the Sex Offenders’ Register.
In addition to being jailed an extended licence period of three years was imposed on Veness because of the danger he represented to young girls.
He was also ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register and made the subject of an indefinite sexual offences prevention order.
A probation service investigation into the Veness case has now been forwarded on to the National Offender Management Service.
The Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme was designed to alter sex offenders’ behaviour by changing their attitudes towards victims and helping them take responsibility for their behaviour.
It is generally intended for male sexual offenders, aged over 21, who are sentenced to community orders.
Under the scheme psychometric tests would have been used to test Veness for deviancy and to assess his risk to the public.
Psychiatrists then examine the offenders’ engrained attitudes towards women, children, men and sexuality, which fuel their attacks.
The programme is comprised of a full-time ‘Foundation’ course which runs from 9am to 5pm for two consecutive weeks.
Next offenders move on to a course of ‘Victim Empathy,’ which requires twice-weekly attendance for four weeks.
There is then a ten week block of ‘Lifeskills,’ which requires twice-weekly attendance and 24 weeks of ‘Relapse Prevention,’ which requires weekly attendance.