DUDLEY Canal Trust has strongly denied a twice-jailed pervert was allowed to operate boat trips for school children.
Wolverhampton Crown Court was told twisted Edward Hunt, who was barred from any contact with youngsters, was a volunteer with the Trust for three years and his duties included operating trips.
However trust chiefs say only paid boat skippers take the trips and at no time was 68-year-old Hunt, who crewed a narrow boat called Sagitta, alone with children.
Dudley Canal Trust director Alan Hazeldine said: “Mr. Hunt was never employed as a skipper on our trips boats which take paying passengers through the Dudley Tunnel or on trips on the open canal.
“His only involvement with Dudley Canal Trust was moving the historic boat and carrying out demonstrations. When the historic 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, again, all children must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult.”
Hunt, from Mickley Avenue, Park Village, Wolverhampton, joined the Dudley Trust in 2010 and the court was told he was even a committee member for two years, despite never having had a criminal records check.
He was jailed for nine months in 1994 for an offence involving children and, in 1999, he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for a further offence involving the Child Abduction Act. He has also since been cautioned by police for possessing an indecent image of a child.
Prosecutor Geoffrey Dann told the court: "He was not left alone with the children who had a teacher with them but that action was in breach of the sex offenders prevention order he was subject to. This prevented him from having any contact with a person under 18 without the prior approval of the chief constable."
Hunt was arrested in September last year when a new sex offender manager took over his case discovered he was volunteering at the Trust.
Hunt admitted breaching the terms of his of his sex offenders prevention order, he was given a three year community order with a condition he attends a sex offenders programme to address his attitude towards children and to obey a six month electronically monitored curfew.
Judge John Warner told him: "You could be jailed for up to ten years but I draw back from sending you away. This is not to be merciful to you.
"I regard it as the best way of achieving protection for the public by ensuring you are under the supervision of probation officers for sufficient time to complete the sex offender management programme."
Hunt’s barrister, David Bratt, stressed his client’s previous offender manager had been advised where he was working and he could have made checks about his duties with the Canal Trust.
Alan Hazeldine added: “As a result of this unfortunate incident, the Dudley Canal Trust is reviewing all its operating and volunteer manning procedures in order to eliminate the possibility of this ever happening again.”