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OLDER BUT NO WISER; TheWelsh pensioners on wrong side of the law.

Byline: JONATHAN EVANS

THEY have been arrested in connection with sex crimes, drugs offences, violence and cons - yet they are as far from the image of young yobs it is possible to imagine.

Hundreds of pensioners across Wales were taken into custody last year for offences as serious as rape and drug trafficking, according to figures released to Wales on Sunday under the Freedom of Information Act.

Atotal of 494 people aged over 65were taken into custody across the country in 2009. Of those, 67were arrested for theft while 65 were accused of sexual offences.

Dyfed-Powys Police made 165 arrests, the highest number among all ofWales' forces.

Second was the North Wales region where 146 OAPs were taken into custody, followed by South Wales with 93 and Gwent with 90.

In the Dyfed-Powys Police area an 87-year-old was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault while there were also five cases in which 72-year-oldswere accused of crimes of violence.

Two 73-year-olds were arrested for arson and drunkenness while three 70-year-olds were taken into custody for drug offences.

And two 83-year-olds were accused of theft - one of which included the alleged stealing of a bike.

In the South Wales area five 66-year-olds were arrested on suspicion of sexual offences.

Two 72-year-olds were taken into custody on suspicion of violence against the person and seven 68-year-olds were accused of theft.

One 87-year-old was arrested for criminal damage and a 73-year-old was accused of drug trafficking.

There were also investigations into fraud and forgery against two 65-year-olds.

But charityAgeConcernCymru and Help the Aged said they did not believe the statistics reflected badly on the over-65s.

A spokesman for the group said: "We must remember that older people, just like the rest of us, are all individuals and that age is just a number.

"We must not assume that because we are a certain age that we will behave in a specific way."

In the Gwent region there were 90 arrests in total, including 11 alleged assaults and 12 drink-driving cases.

There were four cases involving alleged rape, five claims of being drunk and disorderly and seven people were taken into custody accused of criminal damage.

One case also involved a pensioner being arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

Eleven 66-year-olds were taken into custody for violence against the person in North Wales, and three 77-year-olds were arrested for theft and handling stolen goods.

Other cases saw two 65-year-olds accused of drug offences and 29 OAPs were arrested for sexual offences in the region.

But criminologist Dr Martina Feilzer played down the statistics, and said the arrests only accounted for a tiny fraction of the population. The Bangor University lecturer said: "The figures break down the number of arrests made on people aged 65 or older.

"The number of crimes committed by this age group is very small.

"Comparing the recorded crime figures for North Wales Police 2008/09, the figures suggest that those aged 65 plus were responsible for about 0.3% of crimes recorded in NorthWales.

"Similarly, the figures for Gwent Police suggest those aged over 65 were responsible for about 0.2% of crimes recorded. "Considering that people aged over 65 make up around 20% of the Welsh population these statistics are remarkably low."

CRIMINALS OLD ENOUGH TOKNOWBETTER Abergavenny octogenarian Dorothy Evans was banned from living in her own home after twice breaching her ASBO (anti-social behaviour order) given for harassment of her neighbours.

Evans, 83, who was jailed for 36 weeks suspended for two years, appealed against the order preventing her from staying at the home she had lived at for 41 years.

Handed a five-year ASBO in 2005 for harassing the Casa and Stafford families, she was branded a "neighbour from hell". Pervert pensioner David Anthony Roberts was trapped by his own wife in an internet chatroom.

The pub landlord, 69, of Pantygog, Bridgend, fostered 20 children over four years with wife Cheryl, one he was accused of abusing.

Cheryl, posed online as a 14-year-old girl as Roberts performed a sex act on himself and sent her explicit messages believing she was a teenage girl called Kelly.

Roberts was given a threeyear community order last year, with compulsory attendance on a sex offenders' programme. The American investment banker Bernard Madoff, 71, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for defrauding his clients of $65 billion.

White supremacist James von Brunn, 89, stormed the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and shot dead a security guard in June, 2009. Von Brunn himself was shot and died while awaiting trial.

Robert Maxwell used millions of pounds from his companies' pension funds to prevent them from going bankrupt. His crimes came to light after he disappeared from his yacht, aged 68.

Scotland's oldest robbers James Adams and Richard Mulhearn were jailed for 18 months each after a raid on a Glasgow Post Office.

Grandad James Adams, 72, went on a pounds 7,500 newsagent raid with Richard Mulhearn, 70, for "the thrill of breaking the law".

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 7, 2010
Words:845
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