Damning report reveals police missed opportunities to catch serial Grindr rapist
The official police watchdog has released a report showing Hampshire police missed opportunities to catch serial Grindr rapist Sam Ashley – and that his previous arrest for a rape accusation in 2006 was not passed on to detectives.
Ashley, an insurance worker, was jailed for 23 years on Monday for drugging four men he met on gay dating app Grindr and raping three of them.
But now a report released by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) – the government-appointed police watchdog – shows that Hampshire police’s offender management team failed to tell investigators looking into the 2016 rape claims that Ashley had been arrested over a similar allegation in 2006.
It also reveals that Ashley was already being monitored by police over a child sex offence conviction from 2013, when he was found guilty of sexually assaulting two boys below the age of 16 back in 2003.
The report shows that Ashley was arrested in 2006, after he was accused of raping an intoxicated man. He denied the allegations, saying the sex was consensual and no further action was taken.
However, when the first allegation of rape was made against Ashley in June 2016, the reports states that a detective logged two entries into a police system about the claim, including Ashley’s previous convictions, but that “there was no mention of the 2006 arrest in either entry.”
The document shows Ashley was arrested in September 2016, following the second rape claim, but that a notification of this “was not forwarded, or re-assigned” to the one of the officers overseeing Ashley’s case.
The publication – which refers to Ashley as Mr Z – also states that Ashley was only classified as a “high risk” offender in December 2016 – after four allegations of rape had been made against him. He was marked as “medium risk” up until this point.
The report reads: “Risk assessment, risk management plan and ViSOR [Violent and Sex Offender Register] record of Mr Z was not updated until 28 December 2016, despite being aware of allegations linked to him before this.
“No amendment was sought to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) until 28 December 2016 despite being in receipt of information linking Mr Z to sexual offences from June 2016.”
The report adds that one officer sent an email about the offences linked to Ashley “containing inappropriate comments in respect of potential victims of serious sexual offences.”
Extracts of the email included in the report show that an “online support group of ex-partners/potential ex-victims” of Ashley was created around November 2016.
The IOPC – previously known as the Independent Police Complaints Commission – produced the report following a five-month investigation into Hampshire Constabulary’s management of the case.
It concluded that two officers investigating the case “fell below the standard expected and that their performance was unsatisfactory,” but that there was “insufficient evidence” that a tribunal would find misconduct carried out by these staff members.
It made five recommendations to Hampshire Constabulary, which the force accepted.
These included: “Any intelligence or notification in relation to an offender received by the Offender Management Team should be forwarded to the allocated Offender Manager for that offender, who should update the relevant records to reflect the impact this intelligence has on the management of the offender.”
Another recommendation was: “Following any arrest of an OMT managed offender, a review of the risk level and risk management plan should be conducted within 10 working days.”
IOPC regional director Sarah Green said: “Mr Ashley has been convicted of extremely serious offences and has been jailed for a significant length of time.
“It should be made clear that while our investigation did not reveal any behaviour by any Hampshire employees that could be considered misconduct, we did make some recommendations as to how the force could improve the way it manages people on the registered sex offenders list.”
The constabulary had referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct for investigation.
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Ashley carried out the four rapes on three different men between April and December 2016.
He was convicted of drugging and twice raping a university student he had met on the dating up to go jogging with, as well as raping and drugging another man he met for a threesome, who took what Ashley had told him was paracetamol for a headache.
He was also sentenced for raping – and trying to rape a further two times – a man with HIV, who he drugged with GHB, and drugging another man who awoke to see “a number of sex toys on the bed” with Ashley.
PinkNews has contacted Hampshire Constabulary for comment.