Police were warned about paedophile who starved children years ago
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A paedophile who raped and abused children with his partner could have been stopped three years earlier after a girl told the police he had sexually abused her. Andrew Hadwin could have been stopped in 2015 if prosecutors had acted after a girl went to officers.
Instead, Hadwin and his partner Cheryl Pickles tormented children by feeding them soap, shoving them into boiling hot showers, forcing them to stand in stress positions for hours and scavenge for scraps.
Unreported in the media, the story came to light when Durham Constabulary issued a press statement with details of the case.
The force’s statement said Hadwin and Pickles’s offending surfaced in 2018 when one of the children disclosed what had happened to an adult, prompting an investigation by Durham Constabulary.
Durham said its inquiry spanned four years and involved more than 150 witnesses. Its detectives found Hadwin and Pickles repeatedly abused the children by making them eat soap, locking them in cupboards, forcing them into boiling hot showers and baths – sometimes submerging their heads under the water – and withdrawing their access to food.
The children would often have to scavenge for scraps to eat and on one occasion were found at 4am walking alone to a supermarket four miles away in a bid to find food.
Hadwin and Pickles, of Bowburn, Durham, would also order takeaways and make the children watch them eat them while standing in stress positions.
One child was left with life-limiting injuries as a result of the abuse meted out by Hadwin and Pickles.
The couple were charged with a number of offences of child neglect and sexual activity with a child, as well as one count of perverting the course of justice.
Hadwin was also charged with three counts of rape in relation to non-recent abuse of another child which happened when she was a little girl.
The pair denied all charges, resulting in a seven-week trial at Teesside Crown Court.
In a failed bid to escape justice, Hadwin and Pickles wrote letters claiming to be written by the children and given to the police in which they said sorry for lying and making “false” allegations.
A handwriting expert confirmed in court that the writing was not a child’s, according to Durham Constabulary.
After three days of deliberations, the jury found Hadwin guilty of three counts of rape, seven counts of neglect and one count of perverting the course of justice. He was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.
Pickles was found guilty of five counts of child cruelty and one of perverting the course of justice. She was found not guilty of sexual activity with a child.
The pair were remanded in custody to be sentenced on April 28 at Teesside Crown Court.
However, Hadwin was found dead in his cell at HMP Durham on February 2. The cause of death is not yet known.
An investigation by MailOnline revealed Hadwin could have been stopped in 2015, three years before the police launched their investigation.
A young girl reported Hadwin to the police and a file was sent to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), but a decision was made not to prosecute because there wasn’t a “reasonable prospect of conviction”.
In the period between police inquiries, Hadwin and Pickles committed appalling abuse against other children.
The CPS said in a statement: “In September 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service received a file of evidence from Northumbria Police in relation to a complaint of sexual abuse against Andrew Hadwin. After carefully considering the evidence available to the CPS at that time, we took the decision that there was insufficient evidence to secure a realistic prospect of prosecution.
“As a result of the subsequent Durham Constabulary investigation into Andrew Hadwin, the CPS was presented with significant further evidence in June of 2018. We used this evidence to build a robust case against Hadwin, which we successfully prosecuted to secure multiple convictions relating to his criminal offending.”
A family member told Mailonline: “The kids wouldn’t have been abused if they had done something the first time he was reported.”
She claimed: “If the authorities had done their job in the first place he would never have been near those kids. If there was enough evidence to convict him this time then surely there would have been enough evidence the first time?”
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