DEVASTATED residents have strongly condemned a housing association for placing a convicted paedophile on an estate with young children.
Serial offender Paul Thomas was sentenced to 32 months behind bars at Swindon Crown Court last week for breaching a sexual offences prevention order which banned him from having contact with children for longer than three minutes.
At his accommodation in Centenary Court, Trowbridge, provided by Curo Housing, he breached the order by babysitting children – whose parents were completely oblivious of his history.
Henry Burke, 46, who lived in the same block as Thomas, said: “He used to buy lollipops and ice cream and keep it in his fridge, which I found a bit odd.
“There was a little girl in the estate he especially took a shine to but because he seemed like quite a nice bloke nobody really suspected anything; we had no idea about his past.
“I couldn’t believe it when the police arrested him and told us about his past. I blame Curo for putting him in a place where there are lots of children and schools around.”
At Thomas’s hearing last week, where he was sentenced, his lawyer said that his client still had ‘sexual thoughts about children’ in the back of his mind.
A mum who lives in the cul-de-sac, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: “I know they have to put people like him somewhere but lots of kids live here – it simply beggars belief.
“The thought of him living so close to children after knowing what he’s done in the past is sickening.
“For the two years he lived here he seemed like an unassuming, funny man who got on with everyone. I can’t get the image of him out of my head, it’s horrible.”
The 58-year-old was jailed for five years in 2011 after admitting molesting a young girl and breaching the order and also received a 27-month jail term in 1999 for sexually abusing another child between 1985 and 1992.
In 2009 he was given a community order, with the sexual offences prevention order, for possessing indecent images of children.
A Curo spokesman said: “People with a criminal history need to be housed, and as a landlord we are sometimes asked by local authorities to help them do this.
“We work with the advice provided by the probation service and the police to assess this, and these services also provide the necessary on-going monitoring and support once a tenancy is in place.”
Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council spokesmen said that ‘housing for convicted offenders is dependent upon multiple factors and we adopt a multi-agency approach to ensure any ongoing risk is kept to an absolute minimum’.