Judge dismisses groundbreaking sexual offences case

17/06/2010

The case against a 63-year-old man from Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, accused of committing sexual offences against young boys in India has been dismissed by a judge at Bristol Crown Court.

The trial of Patrick Matthews, of Sudeley View, was due to begin yesterday (16 June). However, there were administrative delays in arranging for the child victims evidence to be given by video link from India. The judge refused to adjourn the trial, and ordered it be dismissed.

Adrian Foster, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Gloucestershire, said: "This was the first case of its kind we have seen in Gloucestershire and was both highly sensitive and extremely complex.

"Working closely with local police officers, CPS Gloucestershire followed the correct procedure in sending an International Letter of Request. The process is lengthy and complex, with involvement from the Home Office, Indian Government and Interpol.

"Unfortunately the delays resulting from such a lengthy process resulted in this case being dismissed. Lessons have been learned and we will continue to work with the authorities both here and abroad to tackle crimes of this nature."

Detective Inspector Mark Little, who oversaw the investigation carried out by Gloucestershires Child Abuse Investigation Team, said the dismissal of the case had been very disappointing.

He said: "We are obviously very disappointed that this case has not progressed and I would like to thank all the officers involved for their hard work and dedication.

"The Child Abuse Investigation Team in Gloucestershire works tirelessly in order to keep all children safe from harm.

"We will continue to investigate all allegations brought to our attention and will use all legislation available, working with our partners, to protect children and bring offenders to justice.

"You should feel confident that we have a team of highly trained officers who will ensure your allegations or information is treated with the utmost sensitivity and is investigated thoroughly."

Anyone who has been a victim of abuse or who has any information can contact police on 0845 090 1234.

The charges against Matthews, which he denied, dated back to 2005 to 2006 when he worked as a volunteer in Chennai, India. They were brought under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which allows the British Crown to prosecute its citizens for sexual offences allegedly committed overseas.

A team of officers from Gloucestershire Constabulary visited India to interview victims and witnesses during 2009, as part of the lengthy and thorough investigation.