Published: December 1, 2010
Child abuse suspect on the run has links to Burnham-On-Sea

A former Burnham-On-Sea man who is facing trial on 26 child sex charges has gone on the run, police have admitted this week.

Officers said Robert Hands, pictured, was last seen in July and said the 53-year-old "may be a danger to the public".

The charges, dating from 1999 to last year, include four counts of rape, nine counts of sexual activity with a child, three counts of indecent assault of a girl under 13 and three counts of indecency with a child.

Hands is white, about 5ft 9in tall and heavily built, with shoulder-length brown or greying hair. He has a grey beard, blue eyes and a scar on the left side of his abdomen - although he is known to "considerably change" his appearance.

An Avon and Somerset force spokeswoman said: "The public were not notified initially of his disappearance because every avenue for police investigation to find him has to be exhausted."

A warrant has been issued for his arrest, and police said "numerous" attempts to find him had been made in areas he has previously been linked to. Hands was last seen in Worcester, where he was living while on bail.

"Mr Hands is potentially a danger to the public," added the police spokesman. "Anyone who may know his whereabouts is asked to call Avon and Somerset police on 0845 456 7000 or contact your local police if not in the Avon and Somerset area."

"The police have to act on intelligence in every single location and area in which they know he has links and officers followed procedure in this case," she said.

Hands was given bail despite going missing before in March 2009. Avon and Somerset police issued an appeal for him then within a week of him disappearing after attending a family funeral in the Midlands.


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