A child abuse victim who was told that police couldn't trace his attacker found the pervert himself in just a couple of hours - and discovered he was already on the sex offender's register.

Keith Hinchliffe turned detective when officers told him the case relating to abuse in the 1980s would be closed because officers could not locate the accused.

Mr Hinchliffe reported the abuse to Thames Valley Police in the 1980s when he was a resident of Slough, but little was done to progress the case.

Years later, Mr Hinchliffe quickly found his abuser and was shocked to discover he was already a convicted paedophile who had served a prison sentence. 

Thanks to his own detective work, Mr Hinchliffe's abuser - 67-year-old Philip John Saunders - was convicted of seven sex offences and locked up for another six years. 

But Mr Hinchliffe, 54, is now filing a formal complaint against Thames Valley Police (TVP) over the force's failure to find Saunders following months of investigations. 

Mr Hinchliffe, who now lives in Monmouthshire, Wales, has waived his anonymity to expose the alleged police failings in his case. 

He was sexually abused by Saunders, his older sister's boyfriend, between 1982 and 1985, when he was aged between 13 and 15.

The judge at Saunders’ trial last year said his seven convictions were representative of the 'innumerable' instances of abuse he deemed to have occurred.

The court heard Saunders had threatened and assaulted Mr Hinchliffe to keep him quiet and had also showered his victim with expensive gifts.

The trial was told Mr Hinchliffe became 'erratic' and began missing school as a result of the abuse. 

He was later removed from his family home in Twickenham, south west London, and placed in Grafton Close children’s home in nearby Hanworth, where he claims he was propositioned by a member of staff. 

The home was exposed when Catholic priest Father Tony McSweeney was jailed in 2015 for abusing a boy at the Richmond Council-run home.

When Mr Hinchliffe was moved there, Saunders simply began showing up, taking Mr Hinchliffe out and continuing to abuse him.

On one occasion, he was abused in Saunders’ car at Wembley Stadium after a sports event.

Mr Hinchliffe finally reported Saunders' crimes after the shocking revelations about late TV presenter Jimmy Savile triggered high-profile investigations and he slowly began to realise the impact of his own abuse. 

“It’s personality-changing,” he explained. 

“It affects your decisions. I didn’t go to school. I didn’t get any qualifications.

"I’ve had depression and anxiety my whole life. I’ve had to have lots of counselling.

“It’s been incredibly difficult, coming to terms with myself and trying to build back at least a part of who I was. 

"Because it completely crushed me – smashed me into pieces as a person.”

His abuse occurred whilst he was living both at his family's home in Twickenham and then at Grafton Close, but the case was handed to Thames Valley Police as Saunders lived in Slough in the 1980s.

In a letter sent to Mr Hinchliffe, a Detective Inspector initially wrote to tell him the force was closing his case. 

"The reason for this, as you are aware," the DI wrote, "is that we have not been able to identify [the correct] Mr Saunders."

However, after resorting to his own online detective work, Mr Hinchliffe says he found his abuser 'within a couple of hours' on the internet. 

“I forwarded that information and they opened the case again,” he said, but added it was another 'excruciating' year before Saunders was charged.

Saunders, then living in Aylesham, Kent, was finally convicted at Reading Crown Court last October of four counts of indecent assault, two counts of indecency with a child and one count of attempted buggery.

The judge called Keith an 'immensely impressive witness; honest, reasonable and composed… insightful and measured in expression'.

He added that Mr Hinchliffe had lost a period of his childhood thanks to Saunders, and the 'trauma, fear and shame shaped his personality' in adulthood.

At Saunders' sentencing, it was also revealed that he'd been jailed in May 1990 for two-and-a-half years in The Netherlands for sexually abusing two boys.

In 2005, he was jailed again for four years for sexually abusing a girl in Kent.

When Mr Hinchliffe discovered that Saunders had been on the sex offenders register all along, he filed a formal complaint over previous investigators’ failure to locate him.

A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: "A formal complaint has been made in relation to this and we are in the process of updating the victim with our findings of the investigation.”