Convicted paedophile on run after prison release

The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
The Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL
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A CONVICTED paedophile who was allowed out of prison pending an appeal has gone on the run, it has been revealed.

David Austin, 47, had been granted bail to await an appearance at the Court of Criminal Appeal in Edinburgh but he failed to attend.

The court heard police were already looking for Austin for another, unspecified, matter, and the appeal judges formally granted a warrant for his arrest over his non-appearance.

Austin was undertaking a computer course at Napier University, Edinburgh, and staying in Whitecraig, East Lothian, when police seized computer equipment from his home in 2007 and discovered 15 paedophilic movies and 39 still images. He claimed the computer could have been used by others as it was not under his sole control all the time at university, but he was convicted after a trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court of downloading the pornography.

Austin had a previous conviction for a similar offence in Scotland in 2004, and in 1992, while living in Canada and working as a child carer, he had been jailed for six years for sexual assaults on young men.

Following the latest conviction, he was remitted to the High Court for sentence and the possibility of an indeterminate sentence was considered.

However, Lady Stacey decided against an order for lifelong restriction, and jailed Austin for five years to be followed by five years’ supervision.

The term was backdated to December 2009, when Austin had first been taken into custody. Under early release provisions, he became eligible for parole after serving half the sentence, and would have been freed at the two-thirds stage. He had completed two years and nine months when he was given bail in September last year pending an appeal against his conviction.

The defence counsel, Moira MacKenzie, told the court that Austin had not been in contact with his solicitors recently. A letter giving him the date of his hearing in the appeal court had been sent to his home, and his mother had been spoken to, but she did not know his whereabouts.

“The local police are looking for him in respect of another matter. I have no explanation for his non-appearance,” added Ms MacKenzie.

Lady Paton, sitting with Lords Brodie and Wheatley, said they would refuse the appeal and grant a warrant for Austin’s apprehension.