- Probation workers on sick leave when Daniel Veness was due to start
- Delay called ‘highly unsatisfactory’ by local MP Peter Aldous
- Police Commissioner said six month delay was ‘absolutely ridiculous’
- Veness, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, jailed for two years eight months in April
A paedophile attacked a sleeping five year-old girl in the same month his sex offender treatment was delayed because staff were off sick, it emerged today.
Daniel Veness, 23, had been ordered to carry out the treatment after being convicted of possessing over 600 child abuse images on his computer.
However, two years into his three-year community order he had still not joined the programme.
It has now emerged that the urgent treatment was delayed for six months because staff were on sick leave.
In March 2012, when Veness was due to begin the Thames Valley Treatment Programme, he attacked a five-year-old girl as she slept and filmed the assault.
Veness, from Lowestoft, Suffolk, was arrested three months later when a friend found the vile images.
He was jailed for two years and eight months in April this year.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service, which runs the programme, said today there was no specific requirement as to when the treatment should begin but the delay has been criticised by politicians and the local Police Commissioner.
Probation workers have revealed the treatment programme was delayed following a Freedom of Information request.
It also emerged that five other sex offenders were due to start the delayed programme.
Veness was originally ordered to start treatment after the first offence in March 2011 but a year later he had still not joined because he had been on holiday.
He was eventually given two start dates in March and October 2012, but each time the scheme was postponed before being scrapped because of ‘insufficient resources’.
Norfolk and Suffolk Probation Service said the only legal requirement for treatment is that the defendant should complete the programme by the end of their sentence.
But Conservative MP for Waveney, Peter Aldous, said it was ‘highly unsatisfactory’.
He said: ‘I am very surprised and extremely disappointed that this information has come to light.
‘If an offence is serious enough for someone to go on a treatment programme that should be carried out as soon as practically possible after their sentencing.
‘I think in this instance a delay of six months before the course was reconstituted is not acceptable.’
Suffolk’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said: ‘I find this approach quite extraordinary.
‘As far as I am concerned as Police and Crime Commissioner one of the key roles is to look at the accountability and the public interest.
‘While this delay may be within the law I would have thought common sense should have prevailed here and the required course or treatment would have been done straightaway.
‘I don’t understand why the course should have been delayed for six months. I find the whole process absolutely ridiculous.’
Veness admitted to offences of sexual touching, taking indecent pictures of a child and downloading indecent images of children at Ipswich Crown Court in April.
He also pleaded guilty to breaching a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and failing to notify police of a change in his address under the terms of the Sex Offenders’ Register.
In addition to being jailed an extended licence period of three years was imposed on Veness because of the danger he represented to young girls.
He was also ordered to sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register and made the subject of an indefinite sexual offences prevention order.
A probation service investigation into the Veness case has now been forwarded on to the National Offender Management Service.
The Thames Valley Sex Offender Programme was designed to alter sex offenders’ behaviour by changing their attitudes towards victims and helping them take responsibility for their behaviour.
It is generally intended for male sexual offenders, aged over 21, who are sentenced to community orders.