Laptop with abuse images was returned to Norfolk man who went on to rape a child, it is claimed

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A laptop containing abuse images was returned to a Norfolk man who went on to rape a child, it has been alleged.

Computers belonging to Paul Ashbury, of Anthony Nolan Road, King's Lynn - which may have contained more than 100 indecent images - were seized when he was arrested by Essex Police on suspicion of sexual assault against a child and possessing indecent images.

However the computers were handed back when the force decided to take no further action against him.

The 52-year-old was this year sentenced to 15 years in prison after admitting multiple offences including rape, sexual assault and sexual activity with a child and making indecent photographs of a child.

A statement from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which is looking into the case, said: 'It appears when Norfolk Police officers examined Ashbury's laptop, they found additional child abuse images which it is believed had not been identified during Essex Police's investigation.

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'Our investigation will examine the conduct of officers from Essex Police's west child abuse investigation team (CAIT) and whether the investigation into Mr Ashbury was carried out in accordance with Essex Police's policy, procedures and guidelines.'

IOPC regional director for the south east, Sarah Green, said: 'These are extremely serious allegations regarding how Essex Police investigated a man who later admitted multiple child sexual offences following the investigation by Norfolk Police.

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'We will examine the officers' actions and what if anything they could have done differently.'

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