Cumbria Police defend search for child sex abuser Jeffrey Maclagan

Jeffrey Maclagan Image copyright Cumbria Police
Image caption Jeffrey Maclagan carried out the assaults against a girl in the 1970s

Police have defended their search for a sex offender who worked on a market for seven years as a wanted man.

Jeffrey Maclagan, 64, was jailed after handing himself in for historical child sex offences following an appeal on the BBC's Crimewatch.

His barrister told the court Maclagan had been working on a stall in Keswick since going on the run in 2012.

Cumbria Police said it carried out "extensive inquiries" to find Maclagan, who stopped using his bank accounts.

Carlisle Crown Court heard Maclagan, of no fixed address, sexually abused an eight-year-old girl in the 1970s but his victim felt unable to report the crime at the time.

He was charged with four counts of indecent assault on a child and one of indecency with the youngster in 2012 but failed to attend a magistrates' court.

Maclagan's barrister Brendan Burke said his client remained "at large" for seven years despite "working on the market in Keswick, often coming into daily contact with police in that capacity".

'Evasion attempts'

A spokesman for Cumbria Police said he was traced to Kent through a bank account but had gone when officers went to arrest him.

Officers also appealed for the public's help in 2016 via Crimestoppers but without success, the spokesman said.

He said: "Upon his re-arrest earlier this year, evidence was found regarding Maclagan's attempts to evade the police.

"He had stopped using bank accounts - but carried with him a bank card which had expired in 2016 for the purposes of identification.

"Similarly, he had on him a driving licence which had also expired. Maclagan had also reverted to using cash-only in an effort to not be traced."

Maclagan was jailed for eight-and-a-half years.

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