A canal trust has pledged to review its procedures after a sex offender banned from having contact with children took part in demonstrations attended by youngsters.
But Dudley Canal Trust has stressed that Edward ‘Eddy’ Hunt was only a volunteer who was not allowed to be alone with a child and in his role had no contact with children.
He volunteered at Dudley Canal Trust for three years before police found out. The 68-year-old, from Mickley Avenue, Park Village, admitted breaching the terms of a Sex Offender Prevention Order and was given a three-year community order by Wolverhampton Crown Court. He had twice been jailed for offences with children and had been cautioned for possession of child pornography.
The court was told the trust had admitted taking him on without checking if he had a criminal past. Trust director Alan Hazeldine today said: “As a result of this unfortunate incident, the Dudley Canal Trust is reviewing all its operating and volunteer manning procedures.
“This is in order to eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again.”
Mr Hazeldine said Hunt had never been employed as a skipper on the trust’s trip boats which take paying passengers through Dudley Tunnel or on trips along the open canal.
“His only involvement with Dudley Canal Trust was moving the historic boat Sagitta 3 and carrying out demonstrations. “When the boat is demonstrated at a show location it is stationary, moored to the bank and in full view of the general public. “Demonstrations only take place when a minimum of two volunteers are present and all children are accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.”
Mr Hazeldine said the Sagitta had all risk assessments and methods of operation prominently displayed for volunteers and the public.
And he stressed at no time can a volunteer or member of staff be alone with a child.
Mr Hazeldine said the trust purchased the historic narrowboat three years ago from British Waterways and extended an invitation to the volunteers who had crewed and operated it.
Hunt had been among the volunteers. He had previously moved the boat to various locations for public demonstrations.