Fugitive sex offender arrested
Gardai swoop after hunted man spotted at popular swimming spot
A HIGH-risk sex offender who was on the run from UK authorities has been arrested by gardai beside a children's swimming area.
A major hunt was launched to capture William John Paden because he posed a "significant risk" of reoffending.
The 56-year-old absconded from his address in Blackpool last month, despite being wanted by police for recall to prison for breaching his release terms.
A search was launched after reported sightings emerged in the North, where he was originally from, and in Co Donegal.
He was captured yesterday after a vigilant local spotted him near a popular swimming area in Ballyhaise, Co Cavan.
He contacted local gardai, who swooped and caught the sex offender lounging in the grass beside the river.
"He was lying in the grass and he had a hat over his head," garda sources said, adding that he was arrested at 4pm.
Gardai reassured parents that Paden did not make any attempt to speak to children or "do anything untoward".
Paden was brought to Cavan garda station for questioning, where he can be held overnight.
Paden has 19 sexual convictions dating back to 1974, including rape, indecent assault on a female child and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.
In 1994, Paden was jailed for seven years for raping a young mother. Known as 'Irish Billy', he admitted breaking into the 24-year-old's home in Saltcoats, Scotland, and raping her.
But he was acquitted of two other rape charges. He had previously served three years in jail for a charge of "assault with intent to ravish" in 1985, and served eight months for indecent assault in 1991.
He was released on licence in 2009 and was banned from associating with children unless they were accompanied by an adult over 21 years of age. The high-risk offender was being sought with a view to having him returned to prison.
He is expected to appear in court today because he has breached the terms of his prison release. As a registered sex offender he is required under European law to register in whatever country he travels to within seven days. He did not register in Ireland. It is also likely that the Lancashire police will seek his extradition.
"William Paden is a registered sex offender with a long history of convictions against children going back more than 30 years," said Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley, head of Lancashire police's public protection unit.
"I believe he poses a significant risk of harm.
"Sex offenders are managed in the community by police and partners, which aim to prevent them committing further offences, but if they do not comply with the obligations of their licence or sex offender prevention order, then we will take robust and positive action to locate them," he added.