Police failures led to paedophile abusing Fife schoolgirl, 14

British Transport Police officers
British Transport Police officers

A 14-year-old schoolgirl from Fife was abused by a paedophile who travelled more than 500 miles on a train to meet her in Kirkcaldy – after SEVEN police officers failed to stop him.

Convicted paedophile Michael Murray (34) from Devon, had met her on an online self-harm support group and initially pretended he was 18.

He was spotted by a member of the public when he video called the schoolgirl, and two officers from British Transport Police were alerted at Bristol Temple Meads station after being alerted.

At Cheltenham, officers boarded the train but could not find Murray.

When Murray was approached by cops at Birmingham New Street, he gave them a false identity and said he was meeting his daughter.

Two days later, the teenage victim called police to say she had been sexually abused by Murray at a hotel in Fife, in November 2017.

Murray was jailed at the High Court in Glasgow last year for having unlawful sex with the girl and sending sexual images and texts, charges which he admitted.

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.”

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.

The report added: “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.”

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, who had a previous conviction for indecent assault and exposure, admitted his crimes at the High Court in Glasgow and was jailed for four-and-a-half years.