Rapist forced out of Highland village by angry neighbours

Picture: TSPL

Picture: TSPL

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A serial rapist has been forced to flee his Highland home after dozens of worried villagers staged a doorstep protest.

More than 70 residents in Aviemore carried out a “silent vigil” outside the home of John Locke whose has a history of targeting teenage girls.

Police were called to the town’s Sluggan Drive just after midnight on Monday and escorted Locke and his wife from the premises.

Locals mounted their protest after learning of the rapist’s previous convictions. The area has a large number of young families.

Locke, who is originally from the Coatbridge area of Lanarkshire, was convicted at the High court in Inverness in 1998 of raping a 15-year-old schoolgirl.

It was recommended at the time that he should serve a minimum of 15 years, and was released six weeks ago.

He had previously been sentenced to three years in jail in 1983 in Glasgow for rape, and a further 15 years in 1988 in Airdrie for an assault on a 16-year-old girl.

The 1998 rape in an Inverness estate happened just three months after his early release from jail, having served 10 years.

Neighbours became concerned when a G$S prison van regularly dropped off a man for home visits prior to his release.

After some research, one local went to his door and asked outright: “Are you John Locke? Are you the rapist?”

He is understood to have replied ‘yes’.

A petition was launched on social media to get Locke rehoused outwith the area, and gained over 1,000 signatures within days.

Councillor Bill Lobban, who lives in Aviemore, said the community was “justifiable concerned” for the safety of children and women in the town.

He said: “The unprecedented scenes locally over the last few days are testimony to the strong feelings of the community.

“While I am unable to comment in any way regarding the incidents that have occurred, I feel it is imperative that all agencies involved, including Police Scotland, Highland Council and others, take on board and react positively to those concerns.

“The safety of the public must be our top priority. Now that the perceived threat would appear to have been removed, I would appeal for calm.”

The property concerned was rented to Highland Council by Cairn Housing, who referred inquiries to the local authority.

A council spokeswoman said: “We are unable to comment on specific cases, but can confirm that Police Scotland, the Scottish Prison Service, the councils and health boards work in partnership to manage ex-offenders in the community.

“These agencies take a pro-acting approach to assessing risk and the managemenbt of ex-offenders under the range of legal powers and duties to ensure the greatest possible levels of public protection.

“If anyone has concerns with regard to anyone in their community, they should contact the police in the first instance.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “At approximately 7.30pm on Sunday, police were alerted to a crowd in the vicinity of Sluggan Drive in Aviemore.

“Around 70 people were in attendance and left the area peacefully in due course.”

She added that the police could not divulge Locke’s present whereabouts, but confirmed he was outwith the Badenoch and Strathspey area.

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