Guilty plea for overseas child abuser

08/10/2010

A man from Watford has today (Friday, 8 October) pleaded guilty to a series of disturbing child abuse offences which took place in India after he callously 'befriended' a poor family and took advantage of their vulnerability. It is the first time in Hertfordshire that a local resident has been charged with an offence of sexually abusing a child who lives overseas.

Barry McCloud (53) travelled to Goa on a number of occasions where he sexually abused his young female victim from 2005 - 2007. At St Albans Crown Court today he pleaded guilty to 20 charges, including the rape of a child under 13, sexual assault, sexual penetration, making, taking and possessing indecent images and administering a stupefying drug to his victim in order to abuse her. 

The offences centre on the abuse of a girl who was interviewed by Hertfordshire police officers who, recognising the serious nature of the case, travelled to India. The investigation was supported by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), specialist teams within the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and a non-government agency in India called Justice and Care, who work to support poverty stricken families vulnerable to abuse.

CPS District Crown Prosecutor Tamsyn Wilcox said: 'Barry McCloud abused the trust of a family living in extreme poverty, in Goa. He befriended and sponsored the eldest son, and he used his position of trust to gain access to one of the younger sisters, the victim in this case.

'The CPS worked very closely with the police, SOCA and CEOP in what was a complex investigation. Through the commitment of all agencies involved it resulted to the defendant being brought before the British Courts where he pleaded guilty.

'McCloud was charged under Section 72 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which allows prosecutors to charge a person with an offence committed abroad if they are a British citizen or resident, and the crime would be an offence in the country in which it is committed, as well as here.

'This case sends a strong message to those British citizens or residents who think that they can sexually abuse children whilst travelling abroad and that they will never face a prosecution in England and Wales.

'The fact that McCloud pleaded guilty also means that the young victim will not have to attend court and give evidence and that the Criminal Justice System will not have to bear the cost of a trial.'

Detective Inspector Paul Doran, the Senior Investigating Officer who led the inquiry said: 'This was a protracted investigation with many issues to overcome; mention must made of the co-operation and support from CEOP, SOCA, the authorities in India  and the charity 'Justice and Care' in this case.

'The serious nature of the offences necessitated officers from the Constabulary travelling overseas to undertake specialist investigative work with local authorities and non-government agencies. This has ultimately secured safety and justice for the victim but additionally, reassurance for the public in Hertfordshire that this dangerous predator no longer poses a risk within our community.'

Jim Warnock, Head of Specialist Operational Support at the CEOP Centre said: 'After receiving images from Hertfordshire Constabulary, specialist officers within CEOP's victim identification team worked to identify the young girl and, once it was ascertained the victim was in India information was passed to the NJO involved and the victim was successfully located.

'This international collaboration and co-operation between Hertfordshire Constabulary, the CEOP Centre, international law enforcement agencies and NJO has not only resulted in the safeguarding of a young girl and her siblings, but also sends out a strong message to those would-be offenders that no matter where in the world you travel to abuse children, you will be brought to justice and face the penalty for your crimes.'

McCloud will be sentenced later on this year.