A registered sex offender who left the country without telling police was arrested when he returned to the UK for his mother’s funeral. Robert Errol Wood had originally been convicted of sex offences in Thailand in 2003. Leeds Crown Court heard he was initially given a 60 year jail term but was allowed to return to the UK to serve the remainder of a shorter term after a ruling from the King of Thailand.
Wood left the country within days of his release in 2012, only returning after his mother died last month. Last Friday he was jailed for a year for failing to tell police about his travel plans. Prosecutor Christopher Jackson said Wood and another man had abused street children in Thailand. They took in boys aged eight to 15 on the pretence of providing them somewhere to live. Instead the two men abused them and put videos of the abuse taking place on the internet. Following a pardon from the King, 35-year-old Wood was repatriated and served time at Wakefield Prison.
He spent one night at his late mother’s home in Princess Crescent, Chickenley, on his release in March 2012 and three nights at another registered address in Wakefield before going to Ireland. The court heard he then moved on to France, Germany and Holland. Mr Jackson said Wood called police while overseas but did not give any specific details on his whereabouts.
Wood had earlier admitted failing to comply with a notification order by not registering his intention to travel abroad. Graham Parkin, mitigating, said the terms of the original order were not clear. He said Wood had initially gone to Belfast to visit his father and then Dublin for St Patrick’s Day. While there, he decided he did not want to live in the UK because it was difficult once people knew his history.
Mr Parkin said Wood now accepted the breach, but he had done it with the best of intentions. He said confusion in Thailand over Wood’s date of birth meant notes had not been placed on his passport and there was nothing to alert border officials of the notification requirement. Mr Parkin said Wood had settled in Holland where he had found work and authorities were aware of his previous convictions. An earlier hearing was told that Wood was at a wake following his mother’s funeral on January 24 when police arrested him. Jailing Wood, Judge Neil Clark said the breach had been a significant one.
“You kept in touch with the police without giving details of the address, stringing them along, never leaving details where you could be traced,” he said. “These orders are designed for the protection of the public and, in your case, children. “There’s no suggestion you were committing offences. Nevertheless, it was a profound disregard and a custodial sentence must follow.”
Wood must sign the sex offenders’ register for life.
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