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‘If Tom Ward comes back, there will be trouble. Our community doesn’t care who he is related to, the good Travellers here won’t stand for it’
Travellers are warning of trouble if a serial sex attacker considered one of Northern Ireland’s most dangerous inmates is released back into their community.
Hated pervert Tom Ward is in line for a transfer from high-security Maghaberry jail to the Burren House open prison in Belfast.
This means the predator — given an indeterminate sentence for a second sex assault conviction in 2011 — will be free to walk the streets at weekends.
The Travelling community in Coalisland, which Ward called home until he was caged a decade ago, does not want him back.
Members are predicting violence if the 35-year-old dares step foot again in the Co Tyrone town, where his first victim lives.
One told us: “If Tom Ward comes back to Coalisland, there will be trouble. Our community doesn’t care who he is related to, the good Travellers here won’t stand for it.
“He will end up attacking another woman. He was only out of jail a short time when he sexually assaulted his second victim.
“Tom Ward had an open condom in his pocket. Why was it open if he didn’t intend using it? It could have been much worse for the second woman he attacked.”
Ward is a Category Three sex offender and is considered a huge risk to the public. As well as having convictions for assaulting two women, he was found guilty in 2015 of beating up a prison officer.
Despite this he is in line for a move from Maghaberry to cushy Burren House open prison.
Ward was first jailed in 2006 for two-and-a-half years for falsely imprisoning a woman and sexually assaulting her. The thug knocked his victim’s teeth out when she tried to fight back.
After Ward was released the woman’s husband warned he would strike again, and within weeks he was back in custody.
This time it was for stalking a female jogger in Cookstown. He followed the terrified victim for over a mile before subjecting her to a brutal sex assault.
When Ward was searched by police he was found to have an open condom in his pocket. He received an indeterminate sentence and has been behind bars for the past decade.
Insiders at Maghaberry Prison describe Ward as “remorseless” and revealed he often refers to himself as ‘King of the Gypsies’. He nicknamed himself ‘Muscles’ and is notorious for picking on smaller inmates.
As part of his release programme Ward has been on several UTRs (unaccompanied temporary releases) with family. He has also been approved access to female relatives despite being a danger to women and being deemed the most high-risk level of sex offender.
A Prison Service spokesman said: “People in our care approaching the end of their sentence will be tested prior to release back into the community.
“Individuals will have fully engaged in a number of tests, which challenge and support them to make positive change in their lives.
“After being fully risk-assessed, they begin a graduated release programme into the community, firstly under supervision then progressing to short time bounded periods of unaccompanied release where they work in the community.
“Preparing people for release is a vital part of rehabilitation as it reduces their risk of reoffending which helps to make the community safer.”