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Sex offender to be held at Co-Ed

Merrick Seaman, found guilty sexual exploitation of a five-year-old girl

Part of the Co-Educational Facility has been redesignated as a hospital to block the release of a dangerous child sex offender.

Merrick Seaman is to be held at the St George’s jail, which holds women prisoners and men aged 20 and younger, under the Mental Health Act because he cannot be detained in any of the island’s hospitals on security grounds.

The Government said the special arrangement was needed to provide Seaman with the “proper detention and specialised monitoring required” and keep him off the streets.

Wayne Caines, Minister of National Security, said he and Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, had taken the step in the interests of public safety.

Mr Caines, who did not identify Seaman, added: “The safety and security of our community is a priority for this government.”

He added: “With my colleague, Ms Wilson, we have taken the careful and necessary steps to protect the public from this dangerous individual. As the treatment needed for this individual is not available locally, we have been working on facilitating his transfer to a proper location in the UK.

“Pending that transfer, this action will provide the protection for the public that is necessary.”

Seaman was sentenced to eight years in jail in 2011 for a serious sexual assault on a five-year-old girl. A government spokesman said the Prison Officers Association was advised of the decision to hold Seaman at the Co-Ed and had raised no concerns.

The spokesman added: “It should be stressed that this is a temporary matter and for a short-term period while a long-term solution is being developed. Further, it is important to note that this decision was reached after careful and thoughtful consideration and this course of action has been taken in order to protect the public from a dangerous sexual predator.”

Seaman, now 33, committed the offence in July 2010 as the young girl played outside when he was an outpatient at the Mid-Atlantic Wellness

Institute hospital for the mentally ill.

Then Chief Justice Richard Ground ruled Seaman should be imprisoned at Westgate Correctional Facility rather than be subject to a Mental Health Act order at a sentencing hearing the following year.

But Mr Justice Ground did not specify what provisions should be made after Seaman’s release and prosecutors launched an appeal against the original sentence to ensure the offender would be monitored after he was freed.

The Court of Appeal allowed the Department of Public Prosecutions to make the challenge four years later in March 2015 — even though appeals usually have to be lodged within 28 days.

It was believed to be the first time the court had allowed an appeal to be made “out of time”.

Sir Scott Baker, president of the Court of Appeal, ordered that Seaman should be supervised for at least three years after his release from Westgate.

Ken Savoury, who appeared for Seaman, told the appeals court his client had been receiving psychological treatment since he was very young.

He added that a supervision order was in the best interests of both the public and Seaman.

Seaman was sentenced to an additional nine months in 2016 after he stabbed a fellow Westgate prisoner in the eye with a pen in an argument over what TV channel to watch. The prison attack happened in July 2015.

Government’s decision to prevent Seaman’s release came after controversy over other high-profile cases, including that of sex offender Jonathan Cumberbatch, whose name and photograph were made public earlier this year by Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General.

Cumberbatch, then 55 and from Warwick, was said to be “of the highest risk to the community” in the run-up to his planned release date in February.

He was jailed in 2010 for sexual exploitation of a young person while in a position of trust, as well as sexual assault. There was also a storm of outrage when child sex offender John “Chalkie” White, a former police officer, was released in November 2016 without the families of his victims being notified.

White was in 2004 convicted of serious sexual assaults against three young boys and spent 12 years in jail.

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