Killers and paedophiles put in B&B


Published: Tuesday 16th June 2015 by The News Editor

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The owner of a B&B where a woman was brutally murdered has spoken of her shock at discovering former residents included killers, sex offenders and paedophiles.

The Sirhowy Arms in Bargoed, south Wales, found itself the subject of worldwide press attention following the horrific death of 22-year-old Cerys Yemm at the 13-bedroom guesthouse.

Her killer, Matthew Williams, who had been put up in the hostel by Caerphilly Council just after being released from prison, also died after being Tasered by police.

In an interview with BBC programme Week In Week Out, which will be broadcast tonight, Sirhowy Arms owner Mandy Miles said she had no idea of Williams’ violent past or that she had housed other dangerous offenders in the past.

She said: “I never thought for a single minute that I would be in danger or that anyone else would be in danger. I would never have let them through the door.”

Before Miss Yemm’s death, the Sirhowy Arms was used by the council since 2008 to temporarily house homeless adults and a number of vulnerable teenagers – including care leavers.

Mrs Miles said she was happy to accept people who had previously been to prison as well as those with alcohol, drug and mental issues – but believed they were not dangerous.

However, following Miss Yemm’s killing last November a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that the council had referred 10 sexual and violent offenders who had been homeless.

Mrs Miles said she had since cross-matched her records with local news reports on a number of convicts including a rapist, a peeping Tom and several paedophiles.

She told the programme: “I did not open that door and this guy walks to me and goes, ‘Hello Mandy, the council sent me, I’m a sex offender’. That did not happen. I had to Google to find out what they’d done. That annoyed me.”

The programme also found that in the last five years, Welsh councils sent 755 homeless 16 and 17 year olds to stay in B&Bs because there was nowhere else for them to go.

In England, councils have been told to stop sending 16 and 17 year olds to B&Bs as they are deemed inappropriate. But in Wales, councils can leave them there for up to six weeks at a time while alternatives are sought.

Caerphilly Council refused to be interviewed for the programme but said it considered risk assessments from police and the probation service before sending ex-offenders to stay in temporary accommodation.

It added that while it told Mrs Miles if clients were ex-offenders, it did not give her details about the reason why they had been to jail.

Week In Week Out also spoke to Miss Yemm’s mother Paula, who said she was still seeking answers into her daughter’s death.

She said: “Most mornings I wake up and for a split second you think … it is so unimaginable … that it hasn’t happened. It doesn’t happen to people like us, it doesn’t happen to Cerys. That feeling comes every morning.”

Mrs Yemm said she had also been haunted by some media coverage in the wake of her daughter’s death.

“I’ve seen horrific headlines … you go to bed at night and things are flashing through your mind,” she said.

“I still know nothing … as much as I know how difficult … knowing that information would be, I need to know.

“Who made the decisions to place him there and what risk assessments were completed? What went wrong?”

Week In Week Out will be shown on BBC One Wales at 10.35pm as well as being available via iPlayer.

Published: Tuesday 16th June 2015 by The News Editor

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