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Family plea after man plunges to death from Colne viaduct

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A family has made a desperate plea to the government after a man plunged to his death from Colne’s viaduct.

The relatives of newly-employed Paul Naughton, of Burrans Meadow, Colne, want to ensure more care is taken when disclosing spent convictions in criminal record checks.

They feel a flaw in the system is what ultimately led Mr Naughton to kill himself in March, and are keen to prevent other families from going through similar heartache.

Mr Naughton (54) had just been offered a job as a care assistant for the elderly at BUPA, but was suspended when a three-month detention he had been given aged 17 showed up in a detailed certificate by the Disclosure and Barring Service. He had been handed the sentence for being a passenger in a stolen car.

While his relatives understand why spent crimes relating to an occupation should be revealed, they feel that in Mr Naughton’s case his offence should have been kept private. They are now appealing to “higher powers” to take a closer look at the Rehabilitations Offenders Act.

Talking outside Pennine Magistrates’ Court, following Mr Naughton’s inquest, the family said: “This has turned out to be a life sentence for Paul. We want to stop this from happening to somebody else.

“Our concern is that other people everywhere are in a similar position with similar circumstances. We just hope something can be done.”

Currently, a spent record does not need to be declared to employers or voluntary organisations, unless the applicant is applying for an “excepted position”. This includes work with vulnerable adults.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said this is an issue he has previously raised in Parliament on behalf of Pendle residents.

He said: “The government has been looking at this issue seriously, and it is important to clarify whether this was a mistake or whether this is actually how it stands.

“Clearly this case raises further questions which I will be taking up. We need to ensure the system is fair for both individuals with convictions and the wider society.”

East Lancashire Coroner Richard Taylor concluded Mr Naughton had taken his own life following Tuesday’s inquest.

His decision came after hearing from Mr Naughton’s family and witnesses, including Det. Sgt Nick Hodgson, who was at the forefront of the police investigation.

The court heard how Mr Naughton had been found by a member of the public at night and was not in possession of any items that could identify him.

When police, who had released an Evofit image to assist with their investigation, did identify Mr Naughton’s Colne home, they found a note on the lounge coffee table stating “I’m taking my own life”.

The family thanked everybody who had assisted them during the past four months.

 

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