A FUGITIVE rapist who fled the country may be allowed to stay in Switzerland, it has been revealed.
Detectives wanted to extradite Richard Guelbert, who disappeared after being released halfway into his prison sentence for raping a 15-year-old Notts schoolgirl and offering her to his friends for money. But they have been rebuffed in their attempts to get him back to the UK – and have given up hope.
Unless the 48-year-old returns voluntarily, police say it is unlikely they will be able to force him to come back. By fleeing to Switzerland, Guelbert was breaching the terms of his sentence by failing to keep in touch with the authorities and regularly signing the Sex Offenders’ Register. However, there is no register in Switzerland, so his breach is not regarded as a criminal offence. This means he cannot be arrested and forced to come back to be dealt with.
As Switzerland is not in the European Union, there is no set agreement in place over offenders. Guelbert’s victim, now 27, said she was “disgusted” that her attacker would not be returned to England to serve the remainder of his sentence. She said: “I am shocked. I see this in two ways. Firstly, I am angry that he will not have to serve his full prison sentence for what he has done to me. “Secondly, at least I know that if he never returns to England, myself and my children will always be safe. That has to be my priority.
“I hope the Swiss authorities keep a close eye on him. I would hate for him to ruin some other child’s life in the way that he ruined mine.” Guelbert was jailed in 1999 for ten counts of rape. As a condition of his release in 2005, he had to agree to stay at an address in South Normanton or to tell police if he moved. Soon after, he disappeared.
We found Guelbert using a social networking website, then, using an online telephone directory, tracked him down to the village of Obermumpf, 16 miles from Basle, Switzerland. When confronted outside his apartment, he said he was not aware he was supposed to be in Derbyshire. East Midlands Euro MEP Roger Helmer said he was concerned that Guelbert was on the run in Switzerland.
Mr Helmer said: “I will write to the Swiss ambassador to raise concerns about this man in the hope that some kind of resolution can be found and that he can be brought back.” A spokesman for Derbyshire police said detectives were “frustrated”. He said: “We would like to stress that every effort has been made to return him to England under all of the available legislation. “Unfortunately, to get a warrant, there needs to be a like-for-like offence between the two countries. We realise this is not only frustrating for ourselves, but also to the victim in this case.”
A spokesman for the Home Office said individual police forces and probation services had the power to remove a passport from a sex offender if it was believed they were going to leave the country. But Derbyshire police said the force had no information to suggest Guelbert was going to abscond.
Guelbert’s victim said she believed all sex offenders should have their passports seized to stop them from travelling without the authorities knowing.