February 2004

With children at risk, the last thing on the officers’ minds was whether they were breaching this paedophile’s human rights

A CONVICTED child rapist has won a £4000-plus payout from police who broke into his home to save two girls.

A sheriff ruled David Edwards, 55, who has served jail terms for three rapes, was entitled to the money because the officers did not have a search warrant.

Police went to the pervert’s home after neighbours reported screams in the early hours of the morning. They found two 15–year-old girls there.

But when Edwards was abusive and refused them entry, the officers went away, warning the girls that their parents would be told where they were.

It was only an hour later, after the worried neighbours called again and they were met by Edwards in his boxer shorts, that they forced their way past him into the house. They found the girls had left.

The pervert, who had been drinking, shouted at the police: ‘You’re only here ‘cos I’m a beast.’ The defiant paedophile then launched a civil action against Tayside Police. And last week he was awarded pounds 4000, plus interest, at Dundee Sheriff Court.

The court was told police feared for the two girls’ safety because of Edwards’s sordid past.

Edwards, of Forres Avenue, Dundee, was jailed for 10 years in 1989 for twice raping a schoolgirl who awoke in her bed to find him attacking her.

He had already been sentenced to 18 months for raping a 15-year-old girl.

Yesterday, the ruling was branded an outrage by politicians and child welfare campaigners who said the welfare of children had to come first.

Norrie Flowers, chairman of the Scottish Police Federation, said officers across Scotland would be ‘sickened’ to hear Sheriff James Scott had awarded the compensation.

He said: ‘This sends out entirely the wrong message. These officers clearly had grounds for believing these children were at risk.

‘The last thing on their mind was whether they were breaching a paedophile’s rights.

‘The letter of the law has to be obeyed, but when it comes to child safety, we have to do the right thing.’

Three years ago, the Sunday Mail revealed Edwards was working as a window cleaner in Broughty Ferry.

Customers told how they were shocked that a sex offender was able to peer in their windows.

After the incident at his house in May 1999, Edwards was charged with breach of the peace and jostling police officers.

He was later released from custody when he claimed he was the only carer for his sick, elderly father.

The pervert also claimed that he had been hurt in the incident when police put handcuffs on him.

Edwards was found guilty, but had the convictions quashed on appeal.

In statements to the court, one officer said: ‘We had previous dealings with Edwards. He had been convicted of serious sexual offences. We were concerned by calls reporting screams.’

In his judgment, Sheriff Scott said: ‘Had I a proper basis for doing so, I would not find in favour of the pursuer (Edwards).

‘The police had no right of entry and no power of arrest.

‘In these circumstances, there being no dispute as to the law, the pursuer is bound to succeed.’

Yesterday, Tayside Police said they would not comment until they had seen the full terms of the judgment.

But Tory deputy justice spokeswoman Margaret Mitchell said: ‘The sheriff is required to stick to the letter of the law.

‘But these laws should be changed to encompass situations like this.

‘These police officers were doing their job, protecting the public.’

SNP justice spokeswoman Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘This is an example of the system going crazy. The police must follow rules. But reasonable people will feel they have been treated very unjustly when they were clearly acting with the best of intentions.’

Child campaigner Maggie Mellon, of NCH Scotland, said: ‘Even if the police were guilty of a technical breach, it is unacceptable that a convicted paedophile should benefit.’

Edwards’s lawyer, William Boyle, defended the payout and added: ‘Everybody has to be protected from unlawful arrest.

‘My client should never have been arrested or sentenced to imprisonment for breach of the peace.