Man raped and sexually assaulted blind children at Edinburgh school

An 'evil and dangerous' man who raped and sexually assaulted blind children while he was a schoolboy has been given a lifelong restriction order by a judge.

David Penman had denied the attacks on fellow pupils at the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh in the 1980s and 1990s but was convicted by a jury following a trial at the High Court in Edinburgh.

From the age of 12, David Penman - described in court as “cunning, deceitful and manipulative” - sexually attacked eight fellow pupils when he attended the Royal Blind School in Edinburgh in the 1980s and 1990s.

All of his victims, male and female, were blind or partially sighted, as he is.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Judge Lord Uist imposed an Order for Lifelong Restriction (OLR) on Penman, now 43, after finding he has a “deeply-ingrained propensity for sexual violence” and presents a high risk to the safety of the public.

The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.

The judge told the hearing at the High Court in Edinburgh that Penman’s offending lasted into his adult life and has seen him spend 16 out of the last 18 years behind bars.

Lord Uist ordered Penman to serve a minimum of four years in prison before he can be considered for release, but warned he will only be freed when the Parole Board finds it is safe to do so.

Passing sentence, the judge told him: “I am in no doubt that you are an evil and dangerous man, and that the risk criteria are met in your case.”

Penman denied the attacks but was convicted of 11 sexual offences by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh in June last year.

The Royal Blind School in Edinburgh.

They were one offence of rape to injury, one of attempted rape, four offences of indecent assault and five of lewd, indecent and libidinous practices and behaviour.

He carried out all of the offences between January 1987 and September 1991, from the ages of 12 to 16, when he was a pupil at the Craigmillar Park school.

The victims were six girls and two boys, aged between 12 and 16.

Since committing the offences as a juvenile, he was convicted of other serious sexual offences as an adult, Lord Uist said.

In 1993, he was convicted of a serious indecent assault on a seven-year-old girl while in 2000 he was convicted of assault with intent to rape and rape, and jailed for 10 years with an extension period of eight years.

The assault with intent to rape involved him forcing his way into a disabled woman’s house while the rape involved him holding a knife to the throat of an 18-year-old woman and telling her that he had killed before, the court heard.

Passing sentence in the current case, Lord Uist said: “I have no hesitation in preferring the assessment by the risk assessor appointed by the court that you present a high risk to the safety of the public...

“Your convictions for the offences committed between 1987 and 1991 and your subsequent convictions in 1993 and 2000 demonstrate, to my mind, that from a young age you have had a deeply-ingrained propensity for sexual violence, which has endured into your adult life.”

Lord Uist continued: “You are cunning, deceitful and manipulative. You have a narcissistic personality disorder and traits of both avoidant and paranoid personality disorders. You engage in fantasies involving deviant sexual violence.”

The OLR means that if Penman is deemed safe to be released he will be subject to continuing risk assessments and will likely remain under close supervision for the rest of his life.

Ordering the sentence to run from October last year, the judge warned Penman: “You will be released only when the Parole Board for Scotland considers that it is no longer necessary for the protection of the public that you continue to be confined in prison.”

The detectives who brought Penman to justice have commended the bravery of the victims who had to relive their experiences in court.

Join our Facebook group Our Edinburgh to share images and news from and around the Capital