Shawn Sullivan, one of the world’s most wanted paedophiles, and a senior British Ministry of Justice official have married in a secret ceremony behind bars.
Shawn Sullivan, 42, and Sarah Smith, 34, wed while the man was fighting extradition to the United States on rape charges.
It is feared Shawn Sullivan will use their union to dodge extradition by proving he has a family life in Britain under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
Sarah Smith is a policy manager in the British Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of the prisons system.
It is not known exactly how and when Sarah Smith met Shawn Sullivan. Officials said last night they were monitoring the case but were not aware of any wrongdoing.
Shawn Sullivan was on remand in a category A prison last November when they wed in a civil ceremony witnessed by two prison officers.
A judge later bailed Shawn Sullivan with an electronic tag and the couple live at Sarah Smith’s family’s £1million ($1.5 million) home in London.
The marriage certificate reveals Sarah Smith and Shawn Sullivan married on November 3, 2010. The address for the ceremony is given as the prison and Shawn Sullivan is described as a property consultant whose previous marriage was dissolved.
Shawn Sullivan is wanted by the authorities in Minnesota over claims he raped a 14-year-old girl. He is also accused of molesting two 11-year-olds in attacks that took place almost two decades ago.
A warrant for Shawn Sullivan’s arrest was issued in 1994 after a woman and her cousin accused him of exposing himself and then sexually assaulting them at their grandmother’s house in Egan, Minnesota.
Shawn Sullivan is also accused of raping a 14-year-old girl after plying her with vodka and peach schnapps. The girl told police she blacked out in the back of his car and woke up to find him on top of her.
Yesterday Sarah Smith’s 71-year-old father Michael, a company director, refused to discuss the marriage.
Asked what he thought of his daughter’s decision to marry Shawn Sullivan, Michael Smith replied: “I have absolutely no comment.
“I would not discuss my daughter’s private life with anyone – and certainly not discuss it with a journalist. That is all I have to say.”
Shawn Sullivan left the U.S. before police could arrest him and he travelled to Ireland where he married.
While his Irish wife was pregnant, Shawn Sullivan was accused of sexually assaulting two 12-year girls at his home in Dublin. He pleaded guilty after the court heard he plied them with drink and abused them.
Astonishingly, Shawn Sullivan walked free with a five-year suspended jail sentence.
The authorities were unaware of the U.S. allegations.
Shawn Sullivan then used his Irish ancestry to obtain an Irish passport in the name Sean O’Suilleabhain and went on the run around Europe for more than a decade.
In 2007, Shawn Sullivan was arrested in Switzerland – but not detained – when he used an identity card with the U.S. spelling of his name.
The following year, Interpol added him to its most wanted list and he was finally picked up by the Metropolitan Police in June 2010 following a move to England.
Shawn Sullivan was bailed last December on condition he wears a tag and observes a curfew. If found guilty in the U.S., Shawn Sullivan faces jail terms of 25 years for each count.
Article 8 of the Human Rights Act protects the right to a “private and family life”.
Britain’s courts have allowed a string of serious offenders to avoid being deported back to their home countries after committing horrendous crimes here.
Until now, Article 8 has never successfully been used by an alleged offender to avoid extradition for a trial.
But its use could drag out any action almost indefinitely. The case is due before the courts in January.
One of Shawn Sullivan’s alleged American victims, Jessica Schaefer, now 29, has waived her right to anonymity and says she is shocked at the idea he could escape justice.
“What about our human rights?” Jessica Schaefer said.
“It seems like he has more freedom than we do. It’s sickening.
“When I found out he married this lady that has connections with the Ministry of Justice… it was like, no more.
“I mean, it’s not fair that he’s living his life the way that he intended to and not have any consequences or be held accountable for his actions.”
A British Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We are not aware of any wrongdoing on the part of this member of staff, but we are monitoring the situation closely.”