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'Polite' neighbour was a paedophile; SHOCK AS PERVERT IS UNMASKED.

Byline: Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON

IT would be the "worst nightmare" of any parents.

Discovering a paedophile lived just yards from where children innocently play outside their homes.

That was the bleak reality faced by residents in one East End community back in April, when their neighbour was unmasked as a pervert.

Depraved James Heslop was jailed after a police raid on his Wallsend home unearthed a stash of indecent images.

His neighbours say the man they thought they knew was a "polite" dog walker who would always stop to say hello - not a sex beast.

It left them shaken, with one nearby resident claiming: "It just goes to show you never know what people are really like.

"The first I heard about him was on Facebook and I couldn't believe my eyes.

"I've been here three or four years and you'd see him all the time - I thought it was odd that he hadn't been around so when that came up on my screen I was shocked.

"I have a dog and so did he, so we would always stop and say hello to me. There are a lot of kids around here so we should be able to know if someone is a sex offender.

"I'm worried people didn't have a clue about him.

"I don't have kids myself but I have a goddaughter and wouldn't have wanted him anywhere near us.

"It scares you knowing this now."

The 51-year-old beast lived in Vine Street before he was jailed for two years at Newcastle Crown Court in April.

His home was searched following a tip-off from the National Crime Agency (NCA) and a number of devices containing more than 200 indecent images were recovered.

Detective Sergeant Ian Paxton, from Northumbria Police, said Heslop posed "a significant danger to young people".

He'd already been convicted back in 2011 of possessing indecent images, although locals say they had no idea of his past.

Fast forward six months from his sentencing, and his Vine Street home has boarded up windows and abandonment notices. One resident, who moved in last December, claims: "It wouldn't surprise me if someone had smashed his windows after (he was jailed)."

He, and other parents on the street, say Heslop couldn't return even if he wanted to.

"You can't do that and come back - I'd be surprised if he ever shows his face around here again," said one mum who gave her name only as Lyndsey.

Regardless, once he is released he will be subject to a 10-year Serious Harm Prevention Order designed to reduce the chances of him re-offending.

However, with many on the street oblivious to Heslop's seedy past, some have called for a more public sex offenders register.

Despite the Government once mulling over the idea of a public register, only bodies such as the police currently have access.

Parents can use Sarah's Law, named after tragic Sarah Payne, to tell them if someone has a criminal record for child sexual offences.

However not everyone agrees. One woman from a nearby street said: "People in this country would probably become vigilantes."

Despite that, she said discovering Heslop lived so close was "a parent's worst nightmare".

She added: "There are a lot of families around here who let their kids play in the street - you just don't think they could be there, but there are so many (sex offenders) now."

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Author:Ian Johnson Reporter ian.johnson01@reachplc.com @IANJOHNSONCHRON
Publication:Sunday Sun (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 27, 2019
Words:585
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