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7 Month Delay in Alerting Public of Missing Sex Offender

Several police forces have recently come under fire for only now making public the fact that a man arrested for sex offences has skipped bail twice and is currently at large.

Police arrested 35 year old Michael Phillip Leaberry, of Ipswich, Suffolk, for child sex abuse offenses last year. However, he has not been seen since he skipped bail in September.

Police have only recently made it known to the public that Leaberry is a threat to children and that he is classed as missing.

Timeline of Events

• In September 2015 Leaberry skipped bail – he was due to attend a meeting in Flintshire, North Wales.
• Suffolk police described him as a missing person at the time.
• Leaberry was later found in Chelmsford, Essex living under the false name of Stephen Bugman.
• Leaberry skipped bail for the second time and has not been seen since.
• Another missing person search launched in November 2015 by police.
• The force has now admitted (May 2016) that they are yet to find him.

Demand for answers

An Ipswich MP is now demanding answers as to why it has taken so long for the police to alert locals of the threat this potential sex offender poses to the public. Mr Ben Gummer said:

‘There is clearly a considerable worry here. I will be seeking assurances from the chief constable that everything was done to inform the public in a legal and ethical way.’

Adding:

‘This is a very concerning case. It raises important issues that exist between keeping the public safe and ensuring a fair trial in the future – and also not impugning someone’s reputation who has not yet been convicted.

‘I think all of us, given the events of the last few months where accusations have been made that have proved to be false, need to be mindful of that.’

Leaberry has lived in numerous parts of the UK over the last few years, including North Wales, Cheshire, Norwich, Essex and Suffolk.

North Wales Police

Police have said that the delay in making this information public stemmed from the fact that they didn’t want to ‘undermine criminal proceedings’. A spokesperson for North Wales Police said:

‘Since Michael Leaberry has been missing, North Wales Police in conjunction with Suffolk Police have pursued all lines of enquiry to try and trace his whereabouts and safeguard the public.

‘These enquiries have continued since Michael Leaberry failed to answer bail.

‘Due to those enquiries proving negative, and after careful consideration that we do not undermine any subsequent criminal proceedings, we took the decision to release his full details and seek the support of the public.’

The force is now appealing for information and released the following statement this week:

‘North Wales Police are appealing for information to trace Michael Philip Leaberry, 35, who is wanted in connection with child sex offences in Flintshire.’

Detective Chief Inspector Simon Williams added:

‘I would also appeal to Mr Leaberry directly to come forward. Due to the nature of the [alleged] offences he is considered to present a risk of harm to children.’

Meanwhile, child protection charity the NSPCC has expressed concern over the situation. A spokesperson added:

‘The police often have to make complex operational decisions about whether to make a public appeal for information based on the intelligence they have about a suspect.

‘However, we’d expect serious consideration be given to alerting parents, schools and the wider community at the earliest possible opportunity when someone is thought to pose a risk to children.’

Sexual Abuse – Expert Advice

Hampson Hughes Solicitors specialises in directing sexual abuse claims in a considerate and compassionate manner. Our Abuse & Criminal Injuries Department is headed by Greg Neill – Greg is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers (ACAL).

For an open and friendly conversation about your situation, and to find out how we can assist you relevant to your individual experience, call 0800 888 6 888 or email info@hh-law.co.uk.

You will be given the direct-dial of your case handler, meaning that you will always be able to reach the person you need.

Source: Mail Online

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