A HIGH-risk serial sex offender disappeared after police allowed him to use “sleeping rough” as his address on the sex offenders’ register.
Mark King, 41, had just been released from prison for serving a 13-month sentence for moving on from an address without telling the authorities.
He went missing until he was found sleeping by a children’s playpark and reported by worried parents.
King – who had been released early from prison – had been allowed to give his address as “sleeping rough near to the Olympia at Riverside in Dundee”.
Even his solicitor told Perth Sheriff Court it was “bizarre” for the police to accept such a vague “address”.
After being placed on the sex offenders’ register for ten years at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in April 2011, King was required to give an address to police and inform them if he moved. But he left Dundee and walked to Perth before ending up 20 miles away in Blairgowrie, living rough beside the playpark.
Mid-Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said he was appalled and the case raised serious questions about public safety.
He said: “The public rely on the police to exercise their judgment in ensuring that they remain protected in these cases.
“The protection of the public is what is relevant here – that is the paramount issue. If someone is on the sex offenders’ register, the most important thing is for the police to be able to track them.
“With the best will in the world, how are the police supposed to keep tabs on someone if they are living rough?
“It seems to me to be an inappropriate indulgence to allow a man like this to give ‘sleeping rough’ as an address.”
King – who has more than 20 convictions including five for sexual offences since 2010 – was released from prison on 7 June.
Within days, he had left Dundee and failed to sign the register. He claimed at Perth Sheriff Court he “had lost track of time.”
The court was told that King was also jailed for sexual crimes in England, including exposing himself and carrying out a sex act in a library.
Fiscal depute Douglas Wiseman told the court: “He is a registered sex offender and is monitored as a high-risk offender. He was placed on the register for ten years. This was a failure of the accused to comply with the notification requirements of the act.”
Solicitor John McLaughlin, defending, said: “There is not much I can say on his behalf. After he was released from prison, he just started wandering.
“He has no family in this area and had no idea where he was going. He just lost track of time. Every day sleeping rough is much the same as the day before as far as he’s concerned. It seems bizarre that the fact he was sleeping rough – and told the police that – is deemed to be sufficient to show registration.”
Sheriff Marion McDonald told King, whose address was given as Perth Prison: “I have no alternative but to impose a custodial sentence.
“This is the second time you have committed the same offence – and it happened within a few days of being released early from the sentence for your first offence of this nature.”
She ordered King to be sent back to jail to complete the unexpired portion of his previous sentence, which amounted to 145 days. She added a further 17 months and three weeks for the latest offence.
A force spokesman said: “Police Scotland manage all offenders within the national guidelines.”