FRIENDS of a Capital charity worker jailed for child abuse in Albania have cautiously welcomed reports he could be freed and his conviction quashed.
David Brown has served 11 years of a 20-year sentence in a high security prison after two boys at the orphanage he ran said he abused them.
But newspaper reports claim the pair, now aged 18 and 22, are prepared to retract their statements and say prosecutors pressured them into making the allegations.
Friend Mike Taylor of the Stenhouse-based Scottish Children’s Mission said Brown had been given false hope in the past.
“This is very, very promising,” said Mr Taylor, who has known Brown for 25 years. “But on the last two hearings, the prosecutor failed to turn up.
“We’ve had false stories before but this seems to be one of the most positive and hopefully this is the case.”
Brown’s accusers claim they were bullied and bribed by police and the state psychologist to testify against him.
“I used to call David a father. I know I have made a big mistake and I want to go to court to correct that,” one of them, Denis Aliu, now 18, is quoted as saying.
“Our concern isn’t the boys themselves who have been very, very brave in what they are doing,” said Mr Taylor.
“It’s what goes on behind the scenes and what happened in the past relating to the whole trial – it’s difficult.”
Brown worked with children for 35 years in Scotland and was a Children’s Panel chairman. He flew to Albania in 2000 to help refugees fleeing neighbouring war-torn Kosovo before setting up an orphanage for street children.
Ten boys, aged between four and 13, told police they had been sexually abused by one or more of three Britons at the orphanage in 2006.
In some cases, the children claimed to have been bound to a balcony, gagged and raped.
Previously convicted paedophile Dino Christodoulou, 52, and Robin Arnold, 63, were extradited from the UK and convicted.
Brown admitted failing to carry out background checks on volunteers while several youngsters testified in his defence during the trial.
Only a review by the High Court can free Brown, a process that is likely to take a year. A previous appeal was rejected.
Now 65, Brown has been held in the tough 302 Mine Peza jail in Tirana, the only foreigner among 300 inmates.
Mr Taylor visited the orphanage three times before Brown’s arrest and has been “praying for and supporting” Brown with fellow churchgoers.
“While he’s been in prison, his mother and father died and David still has his faith which is admirable considering he’s been through an awful lot.”
Brown refused to serve his time in a UK prison, opting to stay to try and clear his name, said Mr Taylor.
“He’s almost been given the freedom of the prison. They trust and respect him which says marvels for his character and how he’s kept himself.”