May 1999

Paedophile jailed for life for double kidnap

A convicted paedophile has been jailed for life for kidnapping two 10-year-old girls, seriously assaulting them and holding them for four days.

Alan Hopkinson, 45, from Eastbourne, East Sussex, pleaded guilty at Lewes Crown Court to two charges of kidnap, two of false imprisonment and nine assaults.

The unemployed computer programmer also admitted 11 counts of assault against two other girls aged 10 and 11 in 1998. Ten other charges of assault would lie on the file, the court was told.

Judge Richard Brown, who gave Hopkinson nine life sentences, said: “The public now have the right to demand that this court does everything in its power to ensure that you will never again be free to present a risk to young children.”

The two 10-year-olds were abducted as they made the short walk to school from their homes in St Leonards  on 19 January.

In interviews, the girls said Hopkinson drew up in a car, grabbed them, covering their mouths as they screamed, and bundled them into the vehicle’s boot.

Hopkinson drove them first to his parents’ house and later to his own flat above a shopping centre in Kingfisher Drive, Eastbourne.

Mensa-member Hopkinson tied them up, and on occasion when he left the house he would carry them to his car in a black bag.

At one point he drove the girls to notorious suicide spot Beachy Head – police believe he considered driving them all over the cliff to their deaths.

There was also a list of schools in the East Sussex area on his computer and pages showing child models which had been torn from mail order catalogues.

Detective Superintendent Jeremy Paine, who led the investigation, said the case had been the worst he had come across.

He said Hopkinson was an “horrendously dangerous man” who should “never, ever be released into society”.

Although Hopkinson was known to police, he was neither on the sex offenders register nor under supervision, because no such protocols were in place at the time of his previous conviction.

CCTV shows Hopkinson shopping after the kidnap

Police believe Hopkinson resumed abusing children as soon as he was released from prison, and that the close attention being paid to him in Eastbourne forced him to go further afield in search of victims.

Speaking outside the court after the case, the father of one of the victims said he could not forgive Hopkinson.

He said: “It will be reassuring for her (his daughter) that he will never come out, but we will never forgive him.