BRITAIN'S leading expert on sex offenders, Ray Wyre, has died following a massive stroke. He was 56.
Wyre worked with many of the UK's most dangerous offenders, including gangster Reggie Kray and child-killer Robert Black. He also set up the first residential treatment centre for sex offenders anywhere in the world when he established the Gracewell Clinic in Birmingham in 1988.
He was called into many of the biggest murder cases of recent years, working with Anne Marie West as the police prepared the case against her parents, Fred and Rosemary, and interviewing Black to great effect for Scottish police.
As recently as 2006, detectives from Devon & Cornwall Police visited Wyre to secure copies of his taped interviews with Black, who they suspect murdered Genette Tate, 13, in 1978. Although Black never confessed to the crime, Wyre drew Black into betraying that he had detailed knowledge of the crime scene.
The evidence Wyre obtained in 1990 into a case already 12 years old could yet prove crucial to an investigation still running almost two decades further on.
Among his many legacies was legislative change provoked by work he did with television journalist Roger Cook. It was after one of their programmes that child pornography was made illegal in the UK in 1987.
Senior police officers and former colleagues have paid tribute to Wyre, who in recent years had combined his child-protection work with unlikely but enthusiastic participation on the professional poker circuit.
Dick Monk, former assistant chief inspector of constabulary at the Home Office, worked closely with Wyre over a number of years. He said: "This is an absolute tragedy for law enforcement in this country and beyond. He is irreplaceable. There are now many practitioners in the field, most having taken their lead from Ray, but his breadth of experience went far beyond the rest. He was the top man, and quite unique."
Steve Lowe, a fellow expert operating under the umbrella of Ray Wyre Independent Consultants, said: "Ray was the sharpest man I have ever met. He picked up on what was said, what was not said and what someone was feeling in a way that was at times quite disarming."