August 2011

Sex offender could spend life in prison

23

A MAN who once set fire to a Royal Navy ship and killed a crewman, molested three young girls after being released on parole from his life sentence.

Derek Devine, 52, had served 21 years in prison when he was freed on licence in 2004, Gloucester Crown Court was told.

Years later, he groomed and abused a girl of about 12, and then in April this year he sexually assaulted two girls as they played in Randwick Woods, near Stroud.

He also exposed himself to the girls as he left the scene.

Devine, of Fishponds Road, Bristol, admitted the offences against the two girls on April 24 this year as well as a charge of exposure. He asked for the offence against another girl to be taken into account.

He was jailed for two and a half years by Judge William Hart.

However, as Devine has been recalled to prison to continue his life sentence following his sex offences, it will be up to the parole board to decide whether he can ever be released again.

Prosecutor Ian Fenny said the two girls had been taken to Randwick Woods by their grandfather, who noticed Devine walking his dogs nearby. They spoke briefly and the grandfather “felt there was something about the defendant which alerted him”. Mr Fenny said Devine then approached the two girls and while they were on the swing he touched each of them.

The grandfather approached and Devine then moved away, exposing himself as he did so.

Later that day one girl told her mother what Devine had done. A police hunt was launched, Devine was arrested, and the girls identified him.

While in custody after his arrest, Devine called police to his cell and confessed to an offence against a girl whom he had groomed from the age of 10, Mr Fenny said.

Police traced the girl but she and her family did not want to pursue a prosecution, Mr Fenny added.

On September 9, 1983, at the Old Bailey he was jailed for life for the manslaughter of Royal Navy rating Leslie Mason and arson being reckless whether life was endangered.

“That involved this defendant setting fire to a Naval vessel in Gibraltar on November 30, 1978,” said Mr Fenny.

“That fire killed the man on the ship.”

Steve Young, defending, said Devine had been recalled to continue his sentence and faced spending the rest of his life in jail.

Jailing Devine, Judge Hart made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order to debar Devine from ever living or working with children and ordered him to sign the sex offenders register for life.