Rapist serving 10-year sentence allowed ‘unsupervised home leave’

John McCallum repeatedly abused his nieces between 1978 and 1987.
John McCallum repeatedly abused his nieces between 1978 and 1987.

THE twin nieces of a rapist who abused them have condemned a decision to release him after he was spotted on a home leave visit having served just four years of his ten-year sentence.

John McCallum, 56, who was sentenced to the jail term in 2013, was spotted on unsupervised leave at his home in Straiton, Midlothian, but was banned from the nearby town where his two nieces, who were subjected to eight years of abuse, currently live.

Rachel Steadwood, the neice of John McCallum and Tracy Brown as children.

Rachel Steadwood, the neice of John McCallum and Tracy Brown as children.

McCallum was convicted of abusing his two nieces, Rachel Steadwood and Tracy Brown, in his caravan at a travellers’ site in Duddingston and in Loanhead, where he lived.

The abuse took place between 1978 and 1987 when the twins were aged between five and 13 years old.

The twins were forced to give evidence in court after McCallum, a former chairman of a children’s boxing club, denied the charge of rape and four charges of indecent behaviour.

Police also looked into reports that witnesses were intimidated during the court proceedings in an attempt to prevent the twins from testifying against McCallum.

Officers confiscated £10,000 when they raided McCallum’s home in April 2013 to search for guns and drugs.

The sisters, now aged 44, waived their right to anonymity following the court proceedings and have spoken out against McCallum being allowed out on leave so soon after being jailed.

Speaking to a national newspaper, Tracy said: “It’s all wrong. I’m devastated by this. How can society give someone like that ten years and let them get out after less than four? Where’s the justice in that?

“Does that mean me and my sister’s lives were worth barely two years each?”

Tracy is scared that she might bump into her uncle and added: “Officials came to see us before he was let out and we had to draw a boundary around where we lived that he couldn’t enter. That was the only contribution we had.

“I’m petrified this man is out. I’ve been leaving work at night and looking over my shoulder, looking out for any strange cars. It’s not a nice way to live.

“I’m worried I go into a shop and bump into him. I don’t know what would happen. John McCallum is a bad, bad man. He’s still a danger.”

Speaking after McCallum was sentenced, the twins talked about how the ordeal had “ruined their lives” and left the sisters suffering from depression. Both have attempted suicide.

McCallum refused to be jailed in segregation with other sex offenders at Saughton Prison in Edinburgh, and had instead been living with the jail’s other regular prisoners. He has since been moved to Castle Huntly open prison, near Dundee. His wife, Nicola, who had stood by McCallum throughout the proceedings, died earlier this year.

A spokeswoman from the Scottish Prison Service said: “We do not comment on individual prisoners. Home leave is an important part of reintegration as an individual can be tested on how they cope in the community, and this helps form the parole board decisions. A rigorous risk assessment is undertaken prior to any offender being granted unescorted leave.”