Homeless rape accused leaves residents ‘in fear’

The man is repotedly sleeping rough in the Broughton Street area. Pic: Rob McDougall
The man is repotedly sleeping rough in the Broughton Street area. Pic: Rob McDougall
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A ROUGH-sleeping tramp accused of carrying out an attempted sex attack two-and-a-half years ago is leaving residents frightened to leave their homes at night.

The man is still sleeping rough in basements in Broughton Street where he is accused of attempting to carry out the attack.

Anxious residents believe the homeless man – understood to be from Eastern Europe – was accused of an attempted rape.

And after being left concerned at the length of time it has taken for the man to be dealt with by the judicial system they are calling for urgent action.

The man has appeared in the Sheriff Court, where he made no plea, but continues to sleep in the street – as our shock picture shows. Now residents have launched a petition to clean up the area.

They believe prompt action to remove trade rubbish would help clear homeless people out of the area, by removing cardboard boxes they use for bedding.

One householder, who did not wish to be named, said: “I have to admit that it’s gotten to the stage where I’m anxious about leaving the house at night. And I’m not the only one – at least two other families who live in this close don’t let their daughters or grandchildren leave by themselves anymore.”

The rough sleeper is believed to have been moved on by police twice in the last two months.

The area’s city councillor, Joanna Mowat, said: “It’s very frustrating for people when the legal process takes such a long time. You want a legal system where things are dealt with as efficiently as possible to take doubt away. Either the person’s name is cleared or they are sentenced for an offence.

“Uncertainty is something that is very unsettling for people to have to live with.”

A spokesman for the Crown Office confirmed a 46-year-old man had appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

He said the man appeared in May 2011 in connection with an alleged sexual attack in Broughton Street.

No plea or declaration was made. The Crown Office spokesman said: “At the present time the case remains active and under consideration.”

The resident said action needed to be taken to clean up the street. They said: “I have a lot of sympathy for homeless people and would hope there were sufficient options and support available to prevent anyone from having to sleep rough.

“However, the drug paraphernalia that is often left behind and the fact that there have already been two fires in the last five years connected with the rubbish built up in the basement shows this is not a safe place to spend the night.”

newsen@edinburghnews.com