Updated: 16/03/17 : 07:12:36
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'Beast of Sligo' tries to return home with new identity

A notorious Sligo child abuser who moved to England under a new name has been unmasked after he broke the conditions of the sex offenders register.

Joseph McColgan was known as 'The Beast of Sligo' and was jailed for 12 years for horrific physical and sexual abuse of four children in here.

He moved to Devon after being released in 2004 and changed his name by deed poll when his presence in small communities in Plymouth and Bampton, Devon, caused outrage among local residents.

His new name of Joseph Simms has now been made public after he broke the terms of the sex offenders register by applying for a passport under his new identity without telling police.

McColgan was jailed in Ireland in 1995 for a total of 238 years for repeatedly raping and beating his own children at their remote farmhouse in South Sligo and was released in 2004 after ­serving only nine years of his 26 ­concurrent sentences – the longest of which was 12 years and imposed 18 times.

His offences in Sligo included trying to force his then nine-year-old son to have sex with his seven-year-old daughter. He was also jailed for abusing all four of his children with cattle prods and even burning them.

The children, Gerard, Sophia, Michelle and Keith McColgan all suffered horrible sexual abuse and following a marathon High Court case they were awarded £1m as compensation against the Health Board and a named doctor for neglect by the board.

Sophia McColgan went on to write a best seller book, Sophia's Story which outlined the harrowing experience the entire family had to endure before the arrest of her father.

On his release from jail, McColgan, 69, fled to Britain, where he settled in Exmouth, Devon.

Booked a flight

Public protection officers in Torbay, South Devon, feared he was planning to return to Ireland when he booked a flight to Belfast and arranged to hire a car at the airport.

Simms had also set up several bank accounts and held debit cards without the knowledge of the authorities.

He was spared an immediate jail sentence at Exeter Crown Court after he agreed to attend a sex offender’s course. He has previously refused to do anything to tackle his dangerous attitudes to children.

Simms, 75, of Torquay, admitted eight counts of breaching the terms of the register and was jailed for a year, suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 60 days rehabilitation activities with the probation service.

'Worrying case'

Recorder Mr Philip Mott, QC, told him:”This is a worrying case because of your previous convictions. You were jailed for 12 years in 1995 for offences against children and again at this court in 2010 for possession of images and failing to comply with the notification requirements.

“On the face of it, it is just getting worse and worse. The assessment is that you are a high risk of causing serious harm to children.

“So far, you have refused to undertake any group work or sex offenders’ treatment programme or one to one work. You simply said it was all a misunderstanding.

“I am now told you are willing to do such work and the reference from church states you are now willing to talk about what happened. The probation service are willing to work with you.

“This is a difficult decision because there is no doubt that obtaining a passport and changing your banking arrangements without telling the police is a serious matter.

“I can suspend the sentence because there can be better protection given to the public by you doing this work and continuing to have accommodation and support from the church.”

Miss Francesca Whebell, prosecuting, said police uncovered the breaches during a routine visit on December 1 last year.

Officers saw bank cards relating to accounts which he had not notified, a passport, and documents booking a return trip to Belfast and car hire in Northern Ireland.

He said he was going to visit his brother but there were concerns he may travel back to the Republic of Ireland.

Simms was jailed for 12 years in Dublin in 1995, and came to Britain after his release in 2004. He was jailed for a total of two years at Exeter in 2010 for possession of indecent photographs of children and failing to comply with the register.

Miss Emmi Wilson, defending, said Simms had notified the police of his new name and of his travel plans but had been confused about the passport and bank accounts because he is dyslexic and has neurological problems.

She said:”He has turned the corner in the sense that he has sought help and guidance from the church. He has opened up to them about his conviction for the first time and is now able to receive their support.”

Earlier this month, Sligo Today reported that another notorious paedophile, Anthony Luckwill, had moved to Sligo with a new identity, including a new PPS number. See Sligo Today 3/3/2017