Police 'missed' SIX chances to snare 'British Fritzl'

Police once unwittingly helped the rapist father seize back one of his daughters after she fled to live with her grandmother, family members claimed yesterday.

To the horror and fury of the grandmother, an officer stood by as the man went to retrieve her and one of the babies he had fathered.

The grandmother tried to stop him and told the policeman about the incest, pleading with him to 'do something'. But the officer allegedly sided with the father, warning the woman that 'slander is a criminal offence'.

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'British Fritzl': Identity obscured for legal reasons

The missed chance is one of at least six occasions when the father was reported to police, according to family members. The others are:

  • Youngest daughter taken to hospital with a broken leg in early 1980s. Police are informed.
  • Concerned deputy head writes to an aunt with a child at the same school. She calls police.
  • Girls' mother flees family home when they are in their teens, and is visited by police who ask about incest claims.
  • After more babies arrive, grandmother again complains to police.
  • Brother of the abused sisters goes to police with 'hearsay' evidence in 1997. No action taken.

Yesterday, family members said the grandmother, now dead, had long harboured a suspicion that the man was abusing her two granddaughters. Her fears grew when the eldest sister became pregnant.

A sister-in-law of the rapist father said: 'Who got her pregnant? Mum said she was convinced it was him and that if the baby was born with anything wrong with it, we'd know.

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'When the baby arrived it had a deformity.

We felt sick. All sorts of questions were asked, but the girl would never say who the father was.

'She and the baby went to stay with our mum soon after the birth. Mum begged her to tell on her dad and promised she would keep him away from her.

'But she rang her dad and told him grandma was asking awkward questions. He went to the house to collect his daughter and grandchild, and also prop erty he had stored at the house. Mum was furious. She tried to stop him.'

When an angry scene developed, the father called police. The aunt said: 'Mum was virtually hysterical with anger. I saw her shout to one of the policemen, "He is the father of that baby. Do something".

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'The policeman told her he was only there to help someone to remove their property safely, and that slander was a criminal offence. He didn't realise he was sending that girl back to another 20 of sexual abuse at the hands of her pervert of a father.'

A brother-in-law of the father said the grandmother once asked hospital staff to do DNA tests on the illegitimate children.

He said: 'The nurse said they couldn't unless the girls gave permission.'

South Yorkshire Police said it would support an independent review announced by Sheffield council. A spokesman added: 'It would be inappropriate to comment further.'

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