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California police admitted last night that they had missed at least two opportunities to rescue Jaycee Lee Dugard from the backyard where she had been imprisoned after being snatched at the age of 11 by Philip Garrido, who also fathered her two children.

The sheriff’s department that covers Garrido’s home in Antioch apologised on Friday for two incidents in which it let him slip through undetected.

The first was in 2006 when a police officer visited Garrido having been tipped off by an unnamed caller who called the man a sex-addicted “psychotic” and said children’s voices had been heard in the backyard.

The officer was apparently unaware that Garrido had been convicted of rape in an earlier incident, and made no search of the property.

A second sweep of registered sex offenders in the area was also carried out in July 2008, but again Garrido’s house was visited but not searched.

The local sheriff, Warren Rupf, said: “We missed an opportunity to have intervened earlier. We are beating ourself up over this and are continuing to do so.”

He added: “I offer my apologies to the victims and accept responsibility for having missed a chance to rescue Jaycee.”

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