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Concern after child sex offender freed from jail

By Deborah McAleese

A high-risk sex offender, branded by police as a danger to women and children, has been released back into the community despite twice breaking the terms of his probation.

Paul Redpath – who went on the run from a probation hostel in 2007 just hours after his release from jail less than halfway through a three-year sentence for a sex attack on two young sisters – has been given a “final chance” by a judge and released on licence.

The 37-year-old Scottish chef has been ordered to reside at a Belfast probation hostel under strict conditions and is only permitted outside for an hour a day.

His release has reignited the debate over the monitoring of dangerous sex offenders with a history of breaching the terms of their licence. The Rape Crisis Centre raised “deep concern” about Redpath’s release, particularly as he has a history of ignoring probation orders.

A spokesman for public protection arrangements in Northern Ireland said however that the vast majority of offenders comply with their risk management conditions.

Redpath was jailed in 2006 for three years after he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing the two young girls at waste ground on the Killough Road in Downpatrick. The girls, aged 13 and 15 at the time, were on their way to buy sweets when he attacked them.

Redpath, from Agnew Crescent in Stranraer, was released just months into his prison sentence because of time already served on remand and was due to start a three-year probation programme but went on the run within hours.

Police issued a warning that he was a danger to women and children, especially after drinking alcohol.

Redpath turned up in the Republic and after he was caught he was put on licence in December 2007, but again breached the terms of that licence by drinking.

Yesterday at Belfast Crown Court Redpath was dealt with for that breach with Her Honour Judge McReynolds imposing strict licence conditions after hearing a south Belfast probation-run hostel was willing to accept him.

She told Redpath, who has been ordered to sign the police sex offenders register for life, that for the next month he is not allowed to leave the hostel for any more than an hour at a time, with curfew conditions to be reviewed in four weeks’ time. She warned him he was in “the last chance saloon”.

Eileen Kelly of the Rape Crisis Centre said, however, that it will be impossible to monitor Redpath 24 hours a day.

“This is very concerning. This man has form of breaching his licence conditions so how can he possibly be trusted to keep them this time?” she said.

“This is a difficult situation for the authorities as he has served the sentence handed down to him but I believe he should be kept in a secure unit for his safety and the safety of the public.”

Spokesman for public protection arrangements in Northern Ireland Nick Carson said the vast majority of offenders comply with their risk management conditions “because they understand the implications of not doing so.”

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