January 2009

Sex offender’s early release raises fears

NEIGHBOURS of a jailed sex offender have demanded police support when he is released next month.

People in Frosterley, County Durham, say living next to child porn pervert Vince Barron has cast a blight over their small estate.

With the 51-year-old former probation officer due to return home next month following a cut in his sentence, about 40 people voiced their fears to senior police, councillors and MP Hilary Armstrong at a meeting in the village hall.

They said Barron had conducted a vendetta against fellow residents of Kirk Rise, affecting the health of his closest neighbours and raising fears for the safety of children living in the cul-de-sac.

He has been in prison since last May, when he was jailed for 33 months for distributing pornographic images of children to fellow perverts.

May 2008

Probation officer responsible for setting up sex offender database jailed for possessing 3,800 obscene images of children

As a high ranking probation official working for the government, Vincent Barron was once in charge of setting up a national database of violent sex offenders in a bid to protect society.

But in a spectacular fall from grace, the man who once reported to the then Home Secretary David Blunkett today had his name was added to it.

Barron, 50, was told it would remain there forever as he was jailed for two years and nine months for possessing 3,800 indecent images of children, some aged just eight years old.

The twice-married psychology graduate, whose wife Lisa, 41, is standing by him, also admitted trading the vile images within an internet peadophile ring while working for the Home Office.

He downloaded the pictures and sent them to up to 15 others in 2005 whilst managing the Government’s Violent and Sex Offenders Register (ViSOR).

The national computer database includes details of the activities of some of the country’s most dangerous paedophiles.

Barron, a former probation officer who earned £80,000 a year, owned designer watches, enjoyed a string of exotic holidays with his wife every year and drove a Jaguar.

He was in charge of its planning and implementation and in turn had access to senior Government figures as a respected civil servant.

But away from his public role Barron was indulging in the very activity he was employed to stop, spending hours on internet chatrooms discussing his vile and depraved fantasies with other perverts.

Logged onto his computer as dogginigcp – what police believe refers to “dogging couple” – he spoke in graphic detail about his desire to rape and kill an Asian woman and her child.

Jailing him at Durham Crown Court Judge Richard Lowden, told him: “These offences of distributing child pornography are of the utmost seriousness as you well know because each image represents a child actually being, often horribly, sexually abused.

“Anything that feeds on that or encourages it in any way is abhorrent. You held a position entrusted by society to stamp out this type of behaviour and not to indulge in it. The evidence against you, at the end of the day, is overwhelming. “You have lost your good character and your fall from grace has been profound.”

Barron was first arrested by detectives from Fife in December 2005 after they investigated an allegation of child abuse made against another man.

An analysis of that individual’s computer revealed emails from Barron containing images of children.

Barron’s home was then searched and his personal computer seized. He was taken from his home in Bishop Auckland, County Durham and, in interviews, admitted distributing 10 indecent images of children to the man, who logged on as “biggordy”.

At Kirkcaldy Sherriff’s Court in January last year he pleaded guilty and was given a 14 month prison sentence but on appeal it was later reduced to a 36 month community service order. Barron was free to return to his home.

In June of the same year detectives from Durham Constabulary, investigating historic allegations of sex abuse made against Barron by two young children, were given a copy of his computer’s hard-drive.

A forensic analysis revealed the 3,800 images. A vast majority featured children with no sexual activity. But almost 1,000 were placed in the second worst category, level four.

Two images were classified as the very worst end of the scale. Barron’s home was searched again by detectives who found a suitcase under the bed in a spare bedroom.

Inside they found a large number of sex toys, a schoolgirl’s uniform and unopened packs of girls knickers, for ages 13-14. They found more pants for children in Barron’s bedside cabinet.

He was finally charged in November last year with 21 counts of distributing child pornography and a further charge for possessing the images.

He was also charged with indecently assaulting a 13 year old girl between 1983 and 1985 and another girl aged eight between 1995 and 1997. At yesterday’s hearing those charges were ordered to lie on file.

Simon Reevell QC, prosecuting, said he had examination of his computer revealed he had distributed the images in an “organised manner”.

“He also engaged in conversations on an internet chatroom of an extremely violent and racist nature,” said Mr Reevell.

After revealing his fantasy to the unidentified man Barron then asked the person in the chatroom if he wanted to take part in the fantasy “for real”. On that occasion the man declined.

“Other conversations dealt with grooming and sexual assault of children,” added Mr Reevell.

Robin Patton QC, in mitigation, said Barron had lost everything.

Barron, who owns a £350,000 home, had brought shame on his family, was isolated and shunned by his friends, Mr Patton said, adding: “He has expressed his deep shame for what he has been doing.

“He has fallen from grace spectacularly. He has fallen about as far as anybody could fall from a very high position.”

Barron, whose probation officer wife was arrested in connection with the case but released without charge, was told his name would be added to the sex offenders register for life.

Police fear he might have used the ViSOR system to contact other paedophiles.

Last night, Harry Fletcher, assistant general secretary of the probation officers union NAPO, said: “This conviction underlines the absolute importance of vetting anyone who has access to sensitive ViSOR material. This must never happen again.”

ViSOR, a £10 million database was unveiled in August 2005 after the Bichard inquiry into Soham double child killer Ian Huntley called for a national IT register of offenders which could be shared by all police forces