False rumours that a convicted child rapist who ran a "black magic sex cult" is back living in a sleepy town near where the crimes happened sparked a police response.

"Evil" Colin Batley, aged 48 when he was jailed in 2011, was the self-appointed "high priest" of a paedophile ring that abused children for decades.

Batley assaulted girls as young as 11, running the cult with his wife and three other women by using occult practices to brainwash victims in Carmathenshire, Wales.

He was handed imprisonment for public protection (IPP) - a type of indeterminate sentence for serious crimes that no longer exists - with a minimum term of 11 years.

With the change in sentencing laws and the minimum term nearly over, speculation began swirling in Carmathen earlier this week that he may have been released into the community.

Police and the Ministry of Justice sought to clear up the confusion by confirming that Batley is still behind bars, Wales Live reports.

A Ministry of Justice spokeswoman said: “Colin Batley is still in custody at HMP Ashfield."

Dyfed-Powys Police has also attempted to allay fears in the local community.

A spokeswoman for the force said: “We have been made aware of speculation and concern in Carmarthen that convicted sex offender Colin Batley has been released into the community, which is not the case.

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Batley was handed an imprisonment for public protection (IPP) sentence

“Therefore, we urge people to refrain from posting any further speculation or possibly libellous content on this.”

Rumours had circulated that Batley had been released from prison and that he was living in the Carmarthen area - just 10 miles away from where he carried out some of his terrible crimes in Kidwelly.

This mistaken speculation led to fears in the area that a convicted sex offender and rapist was now residing within the community.

Batley was convicted in 2011 of three indecent assaults, causing prostitution for personal gain, causing a child to have sex and inciting a child to have sex, and 11 counts of rape.

Three women were also jailed for crimes associated with the group.

Jacqueline Marling, then aged 42, was jailed for 12 years, while Batley’s wife Elaine, then aged 47, was jailed for eight years. Shelly Millar, then aged 35, was jailed for five years.

Batley - who smiled and laughed in the dock as he was found guilty - was branded the “evil and manipulative” leader of the group.

He was warned he may never be released.

Any decision to release him falls to the Parole Board, to whom he would need to prove he is no longer a danger to the public.