Anger at early release of ‘high risk’ sex offender

A SEX offender released from jail after serving half his sentence despite being branded “very high risk” by prison chiefs is back behind bars after luring a 13-year-old girl to his flat just days after walking free.

Darren Mitchell was given a 30-month jail term last March after he admitted taking another 13-year-old girl back to his home in Kirriemuir, Angus, and taking turns to have sex with her with his twin brother.

Mitchell walked free after 15 months due to the automatic early release policy, which allows criminals to go free after serving half their sentences.

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Politicians yesterday described the case as “horrific” and said the case highlighted the need to end the automatic early release policy to protect the public.

Prison bosses were forced to release 20-year-old Mitchell despite him being rated as “at very high risk of sexual reoffending”, and police launched a surveillance operation to watch him.

Just 16 days after being freed they caught Mitchell – who has a string of previous sex offences dating back to 2008 – approaching a 13-year-old girl in Arbroath before luring her back to his flat and offering her alcohol.

Fiscal-depute Trina Sinclair told Dundee Sheriff Court: “The accused was released from Polmont YOI on 10 January this year and was considered very high risk of sexual reoffending. On 26 January he was observed in Arbroath walking past a 13-year-old girl in the area.

“He said ‘come to mine’ and she left in his company and was seen going into the common close at his address.

“Suspecting she was under the age of 16, which would breach his sexual offences prevention order, a response plan was activated by police. She went up to his flat and sat on the settee with him sitting on another chair.

“The accused then offered her alcohol and said it was whisky before saying ‘I barely know you – will you go out with me?’

“She felt uncomfortable and at around this time the security buzzer went as police officers arrived.”

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Mitchell, a prisoner at HMP YOI Polmont, pleaded guilty on indictment to breaching a sexual offences prevention order imposed at Forfar Sheriff Court.

Mike Rennie, defending, said yesterday: “He has been recalled to serve the remainder of his original sentence. His sentence will expire on 11 July, 2015.”

Sheriff Kenneth McGowan deferred sentence until next month for reports.

Scottish Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald said: “There simply is no rationale for automatic early release for everyone sentenced to prison. This horrific case demonstrates why it is wrong and isn’t suitable.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “It is clear in this instance the victim has suffered a harrowing ordeal.

“We want the law to be clear that courts can, if they wish, punish an offender for abusing the trust placed in them by committing a new offence after being released early.”