Wanted paedophile hid in Welsh island monastery for seven years while on the run from police – and wasn’t caught until he appeared on Crimestoppers
- Paul Ashton was arrested when he was found in possession of indecent images
- But he went on the run and ended up settling in a monastery on Caldey Island
- A whistleblower grew suspicion and found his picture on a most-wanted list
- Seven years after his arrest, Ashton was brought to just and was jailed
- Comes after an investigation revealed allegations of historic abuse on the island
Paul Ashton lived among monks on Caldey Island for seven years after he was arrested for possession of thousands of indecent images
A sex offender managed to escape justice for seven years by living among monks on a small, Welsh island.
Paul Ashton was arrested for downloading thousands of indecent images of children on to his computer.
Police raided his home in Bracklesham Bay, Sussex, and seized his computers and electronic devices for analysis in 2004.
Ashton was bailed and police discovered a huge haul of more than 5,000 child abuse images.
His address was searched again a few months later and more computer equipment was seized.
But Ashton fled his home and failed to answer bail.
He remained at large for seven years until 2011, when an anonymous tip-off to Crimestoppers Most Wanted led police to discover him hiding out on Caldey Island.
He had appeared on the island as a guest at Caldey Abbey monastery in 2004 but stayed and moved in — going by the name of ‘Robert’.
He managed the monastery’s satellite internet and phone system, a source told The Guardian, and also managed the online accommodation bookings and accounts in the mail room.
Ashton had appeared on the island as a guest at Caldey Abbey monastery in 2004 but stayed and moved in — going by the name of ‘Robert’
They said that Ashton changed his phone number regularly, encrypted his emails and never left the island.
But he aroused suspicion in 2011 when he emailed a whistleblower saying that he had ‘met another family’, including two young boys on Caldey Island and had invited them to his private quarters in the monastery.
Eventually, the whistleblower received a phone call telling them to visit the Crimestoppers website — where ‘Robert’s’ picture appeared under the name of Paul Ashton.
‘I just knew in my gut that something was wrong,’ the source told The Guardian.
‘I saved and printed the photo, showed it to the abbot and asked him who it was. He said: ‘That’s Robert of course.’ I asked if he was absolutely sure and he said: ‘Yes without a doubt’.’
Ashton was escorted off the island by plain-clothed police officers on July 6 2011.
Police eventually tracked Ashton down after a whistleblower saw his picture in on Crimestoppers website
Appearing at Chichester Crown Court on March 1, he admitted possessing more than 5,000 indecent images of children and was jailed for 30 months.
The court heard that South Wales Police arrested Ashton in relation to Sussex Police’s inquiry and said more computer equipment containing indecent images was found on Caldey Island.
Speaking after Ashton’s conviction, DC David Midgley, of West Sussex CID, said: ‘Credit must go to the anonymous informant to Crimestoppers who became suspicious and rang in. Thanks to their actions, Ashton was finally brought to justice after spending nearly eight years in hiding.
‘In each image, a child was a victim of crime. The length of the sentence shows how the justice system will punish those who download indecent images of children.’
It comes after an investigation revealed a string of allegations made against a monk called Thaddeus Kotik that dated back to the 1970s and 80s.