A CHILD sex offender has been hounded out of his home after parents discovered the secret of his sordid past.
Derek Jones has been moved to a secret address after the windows of his flat were smashed and 200 people signed a petition to have him removed.
The 39-year-old had been living in close proximity to dozens of youngsters at the address in Dalkeith, Midlothian, for two years.
But no-one realised he was subject to a sexual offences prevention order which even bans him from going online.
His secret was revealed by local media reporting a recent court case in which he was convicted of taking pictures of children enjoying street entertainment at the Edinburgh Festival.
Jones’s neighbours in Shadepark Gardens learned at the same time that he was also subject to an order banning him from contacting children.
And it has now emerged that he was put on probation for three years in January 2010 for having indecent images of children.
The day after after Jones’s past was revealed, all three windows at the front of his ground floor flat were smashed by unknown assailants.
Despite the incident, neighbours said Jones was seen walking openly in the street.
Midlothian Council, apparently fearing an escalation of violence, and mindful of the fact he lived in the property with his elderly mother, moved him to a new, undisclosed location.
But even in that short time, neighbours collected hundreds of names on a petition demanding he be evicted.
Angie Clarke, 42, who lives in the street with granddaughter, Katelyn, six, (pictured below) organised the petition. She said at least two dozen children live in the street.
She said: “He’s a scumbag for doing the things he has done. It’s disgusting. He’s evil. You don’t just go doing that to children.
“I think it’s unfair we did not know. We would have watched out more for our kids.
“Now he’s going to land on someone else’s doorstep. I would like to see him put somewhere where there are no children. “
A former neighbour of Jones’s, who asked not to be named, said he was shocked to discover he had allowed the man close access to his own children.
The neighbour said:
“He began to speak to my young son and was giving him toy cars and Hearts football club stuff.
‘He sometimes gave my youngest daughter things as well but always knocked the door and asked first.
“After a while he would just speak to them on his own and give them things. “
The father said his children would also see Jones looking out at them from behind his curtains while they played.
“It all seems so clear now but we really thought that he was just a bit disturbed mentally. I am so angry that my children were at risk for seven months.
“The monitoring of Derek, if this indeed was what it was, was not sufficient and there were clear signs as far as I can see now that he was grooming my children. “
Adele Gibson, 24, who lives in the street with her son Ryan, 6, said:
“I was furious when I found out. All the boys here play on a grass area, which he was looking straight onto from his home. He w
ould sit out in his garden all day. “
Jones denied a breach of the peace charge, which claimed his photography of the children – aged between five and seven – on the Edinburgh’s High Street last August was criminal.
After he was found guilty, the court was told he was already banned from contact with under-16s. No details were given about the nature of the offence that led to the ban.
His lawyer, Sandra Walker, said one of the conditions of the prevention order was that he did not access the internet. She added that when police checked his computer following the High Street breach of the peace they did not find any indecent images.
Sheriff Kenneth MacIvor deferred sentence on Jones, telling the court:
“I think the background here with the sexual offences prevention order and the probation order for child sex offending makes it essential I call for a report. “
Earlier this year, Scottish parents were given the right to ask police if someone with access to their children is on the sex offenders’ register.
But it appears that parents in Dalkeith were either unaware of the change or did not suspect Jones could be a risk.
Margaret Ann Cummings campaigned for parents to be told if there are registered sex offenders living in their area.
Her son Mark, eight, was murdered by Stuart Leggate who lived in the same tower block in Glasgow in 2004.
A spokeswoman for Mothers Against Murder and Aggression said:
“I don’t think there should be posters up letting people know. You’ll get idiots who take the law into their own hands.
“But if you warn people they are there parents will take better care and will be more vigilant.
“And you shouldn’t have them on estates where children live. It’s temptation for the offender. “
Matt Forde, Head of the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children Scotland added:
“Understandably people are anxious about the risks posed by sex offenders and effective monitoring and supervision must be in place to protect children from abuse. However we also need to avoid the risk of driving sex offenders underground. “
A Midlothian Council spokesman said they could not comment on individual cases but said public safety is of paramount importance, adding: “There are robust processes and procedures in place to manage sex offenders. “
Dalkeith councillor Margot Russell confirmed Jones had left the street.
“He was moved on by the local authority,’ she said.