Investigation launched after paedophile escaped from St Albans Crown Court

Police have located Ian McDonald, who was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court

Police have located Ian McDonald, who was sentenced at St Albans Crown Court - Credit: Photo supplied

The Ministry of Justice is investigating how a paedophile managed to escape from St Albans Crown Court before a jury handed down a guilty verdict.

Ian McDonald, 39, of Hemel Hempstead, appeared at the court last Thursday (3) charged with indecently assaulting a three-year-old child in December 2002.

But he absconded from court before the jury had revealed its verdict. A source told the Herts Advertiser that he fled in a waiting car.

McDonald was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison in his absence.

The judge also ordered that he must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

McDonald’s sudden disappearance resulted in an urgent appeal from Herts Police for help from the public in tracking the sex offender down.

A spokesman for the police said McDonald was on court bail at the time of his appearance from St Albans and not in police custody.

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Following the public appeal the paedophile was subsequently discovered, and arrested, at a Hemel Hempstead home last Friday night.

A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Justice said: “We are investigating the circumstances of this incident to see if there are any lessons to be learned.”

She said that after McDonald was arrested, he appeared in court again on Monday (7).

He was sentenced to 21 weeks imprisonment for failing to surrender to custody, to run consecutively with the four-year sentence for indecently assaulting the toddler.

n A 20-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead was arrested on suspicion of harbouring and assisting an offender.