June 2019

Child sex offender gave police the slip in Bristol on 500-mile journey to meet teenage girl

Seven police officers failed to stop a West Country convicted sex offender travelling 500 miles on a train to have sex with a schoolgirl despite an early tip-off from the public.

Dad of four Micheal Murray was seen making a video call to the 14-year-old victim while on a train bound for Scotland by an alarmed passenger who then alerted two officers from British Transport Police at Bristol Temple Meads.

But a search of the train at Cheltenham Spa could not find the suspect and when officers did find him at Birmingham New Street he gave a false name and claimed to be meeting his daughter before being allowed to go on with his journey.

Two days later, the victim called police to say she had been sexually abused by Murray at a hotel in Fife.

Following the jailing of Murray, 34, from Devon, the Independent Office of Police Conduct found seven BTP officers had “made honest mistakes in good faith” in an investigation on the incident, published on Friday.

It revealed that the two officers alerted to Murray at Bristol had failed to obtain a detailed first account from the fellow passenger as well as a contact number.

And the two officers who stopped Murray at Birmingham New Street did not sufficiently probe him or undertake the needed checks to confirm his name and address.

Other officers involved included those in the BTP control room.

The report concluded: “Based on the evidence available, we were of the opinion that all seven officers involved had made honest mistakes, in good faith, while trying to perform their duties to the best of their abilities.

“The evidence indicated that they had reflected on their performance and learned from their errors.”

It continued: “In light of the serious consequences of this incident, we recommended that BTP give careful consideration to learning what could be drawn from this incident, and performance action, so that officers fully understand their powers and responsibilities, and the potential for serious harm to ensue if reports of concern are not handled appropriately.”

Two of the officers had left the force since the incident in November 2017.

Others who were still employed were to be given action plans to manage their performance.

BTP is now planning to start a development unit to provide additional training for officers.

The report said: “BTP confirmed that they had already implemented learning from this case during our investigation by launching a sustained campaign and briefing around professional curiosity and seeking greater clarity of information.”

Murray was jailed for four and a half years at Glasgow High Court last year.

The court heard how he contacted the victim on an online self-harm support group, initially pretending he was aged 18.

He pleaded guilty to having unlawful sex with the girl and sending sexual images and texts to her.

He had a previous conviction for indecent assault and exposure.

July 2018

English dad-of-four travelled 500 miles to have sex with 14-year-old girl in Kirkcaldy hotel after grooming her online

A dad-of-four travelled 500 miles to have sex with a 14-year-old girl in a Kirkcaldy hotel after grooming her online.

The convicted sex offender, who contacted his victim on an online self harm support group, has now been caged for four and a half years.

Michael Murray, 34, travelled to meet the teenager, who “genuinely believed” he was trying to help her.

He initially pretended he was just 18 before going on to have sex with her at the hotel in Fife.

Murray was snared during a cop probe when it was also discovered he had asked another teenage girl to send him a naked photo.

It emerged he was previously convicted of indecent assault and exposure in England.

Jailing Murray, from Devon, judge Lady Stacey said: “You preyed on young girls.

“You deceived them and there was planning and preparation in the way you carried out these crimes.

“It is obvious you present a risk to young girls.”

Lady Stacey placed Murray on the sex offenders’ register and ordered him to be monitored in the community on licence for three years after he was released from jail.

The High Court in Glasgow heard that the 14-year-old began chatting to Murray online in July 2017.

Prosecutor Angela Gray said: “She started communicating with Murray via a Facebook self harm support group.

“He had previously set up a Facebook account in the name Andi Richardson.”

Murray pretended he was 18 and also sent a fake pic to the girl and the pair were in daily contact.

Miss Graysaid: “She disclosed her feelings and reasons for why she was seeking help.

“He listened to her and offered her support. She began to trust him genuinely believing that he was trying to help her.”

They started talking on the phone before the pervert instigated “sexual chat” and pestered her for photographs.

In October last year Murray then told the girl his name was Michael and he was 25.

Despite this, she still agreed to see Murray when he suggested they meet up.

He travelled to Kirkcaldy on November 3 and on the train journey a passenger “became alarmed about a video call he was making to the girl and alerted the British Transport Police who quizzed Murray.

He told them he was on his way to visit his daughter in Scotland and was allowed to continue his journey.”

He met his victim that afternoon and they checked into a hotel where Murray had sex with the youngster.

The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, went to the cops who recovered a string of sexually explicit messages between the pair.

Murray was also in touch with another 14 year-old girl online.

He asked her for a nude picture claiming he would send one in return

Murray pled guilty to having unlawful sex with the 14-year-old and sending sexual images and texts to her.

He also admitted sending a sexual image to the other teenager and invited her to send sexual images to him.

The offences were committed in Fife between July and November 2017.