A convicted paedophile deported from Australia has been working as a lifeguard at Butlin’s in Minehead, Somerset, for nearly a year, an investigation has found.
Dean Carelse, 43, is a disgraced water polo coach and teacher who, in 2022, was convicted of more than a dozen charges relating to indecent acts against children in Queensland.
The South African national is also under investigation in his home country, where police believe he is linked to an alleged paedophile ring that operated in private schools, investigators told the Australian Broadcasting Commission on Thursday.
Despite his record of convictions – and the publicity around the case, which was covered in online media accessible in the UK – Carelse was cleared to work for the Butlin’s resort.
He has worked as a lifeguard at the holiday park for ten months. It advertises itself as having pools suitable for “all-action family fun” where children over eight do not need parental supervision.
It is understood Carelse had presented documents that showed he had passed a disclosure and barring service (DBS) criminal check.
The document had been co-signed by an international recruiter and listed “none recorded” under “children’s barred list information”, according to the ABC.
Carelse was sacked this week after an Australian journalist contacted the resort.
Carelse was previously a sports coach who mentored rugby players in South Africa before working for Water Polo Queensland and elite schools in Australia.
His career ended when he was caught taking pictures of children in their swimming trunks while he was poolside at their school sports carnival.
In what prosecutors called a “slippery slope” of offending, the teacher had gone on to groom a 13-year-old boy for sex and message other minors on social media under an alias.
Police later uncovered 2,000 exploitative images during a raid on Carelse’s home north of Brisbane, as well as indecent recordings of students at a swimming pool.
Ben Powers, part of Carelse’s defence counsel, told a court in 2022 that his client knew that child abuse material was “shameful” but that he had been lonely and developed “an unhealthy and improper adoration” for the 13-year-old whom he made the benefactor of his will and retirement fund.
Carelse was sentenced to jail in 2022 and then deported to South Africa. Police there were awaiting further information from their Australian counterparts before proceeding with their investigation, the ABC reported.
The broadcaster confirmed Queensland police uncovered evidence suggesting some of the Carelse’s victims were South African children.
South African police then requested more information about local victims but was informed that information sharing would require an international treaty, a police source told the ABC.
The delay in sharing evidence between the countries meant Carelse could travel.
A Queensland Police spokesman said the force had done “due diligence”.
“As the material is child exploitation, it is not something that can just be sent. The QPS have no authority to send it without application in the form of an MLAT (Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty) from the South African Police. This has not occurred,” he told the ABC.
A Butlin’s spokesman told ABC the company had investigated immediately and that Carelse “no longer worked for us with immediate effect”.
“The team member falsified information on their application,’’ the spokesman said, before adding that the company would review its policy checking new staff members.”
The spokesman said there had been “no issues of complaints raised” against Carelse in his time as a lifeguard.
On its online job portal, Butlin’s requires applicants for their lifeguard positions to declare whether they have “any unspent criminal convictions” or “ongoing criminal proceedings that we should be aware of”.
The application forms state: “Due to the nature of some of our roles at Butlin’s, you may be required to undergo a DBS check as part of your employment. This will also apply should you live in our resorts.”
Butlin recruits people with a “natural ability to engage and relate with a wide range of people” and consider themselves a “strong swimmer”.
“Our guests’ safety is our biggest priority; this role requires superb attention to detail whilst also interacting with our guests and providing exceptional customer service,” one Butlins advertisement reads. “You will promote and run poolside activities, creating memorable experiences for our guests.”