Man who posed as police officer jailed for kidnapping child

A Wirral man has been jailed for kidnapping and breaching an order.

Robert Byrne, 56 years, of Birkenhead was sentenced to five years and four months in prison with five years on extended licence after he pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court.

He was also issued with an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order with three further conditions added. 

A deprivation order has been issued in relation to clothing and radio seized by Merseyside Police.

The court heard that in February, a 13-year-old boy was upset and had entered a Liverpool city centre shop in the early of hours of the morning, asking the shopkeeper to contact police as he was reported missing.

While reporting it to police via phone the shopkeeper saw Byrne walk past the shop and asked for his assistance, as Byrne had previously identified himself as an undercover police officer. 

Wearing clothes similar to a police uniform, Byrne took the teenage victim to a nearby fast-food place where police officers tracked him down and arrested him. 

Police took the young victim safely home.

After Byrne’s arrest, several items consistent with a police uniform were seized.

The investigation was led by Detective Inspector Victoria Tinsley from the Sex Offender Unit who ensure that sex offenders living in the community are closely monitored. 

She said, “This was very disturbing incident where Byrne preyed up on the young victim’s circumstances of being vulnerable and upset. 

“What was also alarming was that Byrne had previously told retailers that he was a police officer working undercover. This showed the lengths his predatory behaviour would go to in order to win the trust members of the public by impersonating a police officer.  

“Thankfully genuine police officers quickly tracked Byrne down, and the young victim was taken safely home before any potential harm came to him.”

Detective Inspector Tinsley added, “I hope this sentencing encourages other victims to come forward and report similar instances including sex offences to us, and they have confidence in us, as a police force, to take reports seriously where we will ensure offenders are put before the courts so that they can pay for their crimes.

“We take all such reports extremely seriously and if you can find the courage to come forward and speak to us we have specially trained officers who will treat you with sensitivity and compassion.”

Sex offending has such a huge and terrible impact on victims, and we are determined to continue looking to innovative new ways of identifying repeat offenders at the earliest possible opportunity, to prevent young people coming to further harm from abuse and exploitation.

If you are a child or young person suffering sexual or physical abuse, the following organisations can also provide help and support:

NSPCC – call 0808 800 5000 or e-mail help@nspcc.org.uk
Childline – call 0800 1111

If you’ve been affected by sexual violence of any kind don’t be afraid to tell someone, find the courage to come forward and get the help you deserve.

You can report rape, sexual assault and other sexual offences anonymously here: https://www.merseyside.police.uk/ro/report/rsa/alpha-v1/advice/rape-sexual-assault-and-other-sexual-offences/how-to-report-rape-sexual-assault-other-sexual-offences/

There is a lot of support available from specialist officers within Merseyside Police and through the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Victim Care Merseyside service delivered jointly by two registered charities.

In Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral, support is provided by Rape and Sexual Abuse Support (RASA) Merseyside who are available on 0151 558 1801 and, in St Helens and Knowsley, by the Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre (RASASC) Cheshire and Merseyside who can be contacted on 01925 221 546 or 0330 363 0063.

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