How police chief Coll ‘failed to investigate’ abuser Cairns-Wicks – and made him a policeman instead

St Helena’s former police chief could have been disciplined for failing to act on allegations of child sex offences against Jeromy Cairns-Wicks, says the Wass report.

Instead of investigating him, it says, Peter Coll actually recruited him as a police officer- and later made him a sergeant.

New suspicions arose in 2013, leading to an 11-year jail term.

Investigators from Northumbria Police found “beyond reasonable doubt” that Mr Coll would have had a case to answer for neglect of duty.

But because he had since retired, no case could be brought under police regulations.

Sasha Wass QC looked into the case as part of her inquiry into police conduct.

She says the Northumbria Police report on the affair should have been published, to show transparency and prevent unfounded stories circulating.

She reports how Mr Coll justified employing  Cairns-Wicks in the police service by saying: “It’s better to have him where we can keep an eye on him. We will put him in a back room where he can do no harm.”

He had previously worked in the social services department.

Cairns-Wicks was eventually trapped when new allegations were made against him by an unnamed woman, and a covert investigation was set up.

Two detectives were given a base away from the police station to avoid rousing his suspicions.

An adult woman reluctantly admitted she had been abused by him over a long period but refused to say how. But when she said Cairns-Wicks had taken indecent photographs of children, the detectives were able to obtain a warrant to search his home.

When unlicenced firearms and ammunition were found, Cairns-Wicks resigned from the police. His computer was seized and taken to the UK, where pornographic images of children were found.

Once he had been convicted and imprisoned for those offences, his victim finally felt able to give evidence against him.

“On 19 November 2013, Jeromy Cairns Wicks was charged with 28 offences against Adult D which occurred between the ages of four and 19,” says the Wass report. “He pleaded guilty on 22 November and was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.”

The investigation led to a feud when social worker Claire Gannon learned about it, and was told she could not be involved because of its delicate nature.

The Wass report says her attempts to intervene – which included formal complaints – showed a lack of understanding of her role.

“When Detective Constable Veronica Judd gave evidence to the inquiry panel, she said that Claire Gannon was unable to distinguish between evidence and suspicion.

“Ms Judd told us: ‘There were so many times (well one in particular), when that could have absolutely destroyed any evidence that we could have gathered.'”

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