IT’S NOT the sort of thing you would put in the house sale particulars – good family home with lovely garden, just don’t talk to the rapist over the fence.
Can you imagine living in the Midlothian community where the “Da Vinci Code rapist” Robert Greens has been rehomed – and, as if to add insult to injury, in the house previously occupied by child sex offender William Dunsmore?
It’s understandable the people there are furious, and frightened, by what appears to be a lack of thought for them, their children and their neighbourhood. Angry street protests, banners and demands to the council for Greens to be rehoused will probably be the least of it.
After all, Greens is the man who attacked and raped a 19-year-old Dutch student near Rosslyn Chapel while out of his mind on drink and drugs.
A man who has never admitted to his crime and who tried to blame it on his twin brother.
A man whose crime was described by the judge in the case as “one of the worst cases of rape” ever dealt with at the High Court.
Imagine their horror and fear when that attack – just minutes from their homes – happened in 2006? Can you imagine how they feel now that he is their new neighbour?
And the fact that his house has to be surrounded by CCTV cameras and security lights, and that they’ve been given emergency contact numbers and warned he’s still a danger to society, surely negates the assurances given by the police that public safety is “paramount”.
Keeping calm and carrying on is hardly an option. Put yourself in their shoes and you would begin to believe that your human rights either don’t count or at least come way below those of a convicted rapist.
The question you might well be asking though is why he’s even out of jail? He was sentenced to ten years for his appalling crime. By any reckoning he should still be there.
But because of the ridiculous sentencing situation, where criminals seem to have their time behind bars slashed almost as soon as the key is turned in their cell door, one of Scotland’s most dangerous sex offenders can get out and be a threat to society again after just six years.
Six years in which it appears he has never reconciled himself to his crime or to what he did to the young Dutch girl, who is said to have looked like she’d been in a car crash, so severe were her injuries.
He’s a man in denial, which is what makes him so dangerous – even if he is wearing an electronic tag.
Greens has already been removed from a different part of Bonnyrigg because of public protests but it seems that, because he’s from Midlothian, then that is where he must reside as local agencies such as the police have a responsibility by law to manage him. Admittedly there is some sense to that, and it is the case that much research has shown clearly that stable housing, access to support networks and effective monitoring are effective in minimising the risks posed by sex offenders.
But housing Greens within six miles of the scene of his crime, and in a property which has already been used to accommodate a sex offender, feels like there is no thought given to the law-abiding who have chosen to live in that particular street.
Why should their lives be blighted again by the constant threat of living next to a violent criminal?
Of course, when offenders have served their sentence they have to be allowed to rejoin society. The main problem here is that Greens hasn’t done his time, nor does he appear to be rehabilitated.
And while Midlothian Labour councillor Margot Russell has said that housing Greens anywhere would be a “difficult situation”, the fact is that it wouldn’t be so difficult if he was still in jail where, by rights, he belongs.
On another track
ON the subjects of rights – and wrongs – I really can’t get my head around the fact that someone is able to get a £158,000 pay-off after being in a job for just two years. And he wasn’t even working for a bank.
That’s what Richard Jeffrey, the former chief executive of TIE, better known as the company which failed to deliver the tram, received when he left.
No wonder TIE refused to answer any freedom of information requests about how much he’d been given.
No doubt he was due it. It would have been in his contract. But the whole thing stinks. A public inquiry post haste, please.
All aflame . .
LAST week I watched my son take part in a procession through our town ahead of the Olympic flame arriving.
This week, I had the privilege of speaking to Patricia Russell, the daughter of Olympic legend Eric Liddell.
And tonight I will be at The Big Concert in Stirling, which launches the London 2012 Festival in Scotland.
I might have mentioned it before but the Olympics are just, well . . . barry.