Fury over Church giving home to child-sex pervert

Questions were today asked as to why a devout Christian with a history of child sex attacks was allowed to live in a house owned by the church.

Sunderland Today, UK/September 17, 2006

Daniel Devlin has been staying at accommodation owned by Diocese of Durham despite admitting 13 charges of making indecent photographs of children.

Today, after outrage over the decision, the Echo has been told that Devlin, 53, has been moved from the church-owned house.

A spokesman for the Bishop of Durham said: "Arrangements have now been made for him to move elsewhere.

"The Bishop was aware of the pastoral circumstances of someone who needed accommodation, particularly in the short-term.

"That situation has now changed and we understand Mr Devlin's solicitor has now arranged for alternative accommodation."

But the Diocese office refused to say whether the decision to move Devlin was prompted from within the Church.

Church-going Devlin, formerly of Dene Way, Seaham, admitted to Durham Crown Court he had been downloading pornographic pictures of youngsters, amassing a catalogue of more than 2,000 images.

He had convictions for child abuse dating back to 1976, but had still been allowed to work closely with children.

He could often be seen playing the organ at church or teaching music to youngsters.

Angry parents of child abuse victims today hit out, claiming Devlin should never have been allowed to work with young people after his initial conviction.

The mum of a 10-year-old-girl who suffered a sickening attack at the hands of Wearside pervert Stuart Ray, said she was appalled by the case.

The 37-year-old said: "It's despicable that he was ever allowed anywhere near children after what he did. Surely this is just asking for trouble?"

Ray, 20, was jailed for an indefinite period after admitting a charge of sexual assault on a child earlier this year.

The mum, who cannot be named for legal reasons, added: "I understand the Church likes to give people a second chance, but it's something I could never do."

After Judge John Wallford adjourned the case so that pre-sentence reports could be prepared, Devlin was bailed to live at the Church-owned house in St Oswin's Street, South Shields.

One woman, who lives in the street with her young children, said: "There is absolute revulsion here and it's not just me, it's everyone, the entire area.

"We had no idea this man was living right next to us, watching our children play outside. I'm disgusted with the Church for letting him live at this property."

Joanne Watson, 32, also from the street, added: "His house overlooks our garden and it makes my skin crawl to think he could be watching our two young children."

John Cummings, Labour MP for Easington, said: "Under the present system, he should be offered secure accommodation away from anywhere where he might have contact with children until he is sentenced.

"I'm sure the law will then make adequate provision for him."

The latest case comes just two weeks after the Echo revealed how convicted sex offender Craig Wilson was allowed to work just metres from the classroom of a 14-year-old schoolgirl.

The 26-year-old groomed the teenager and got her pregnant while working as a builder near her Wearside school.

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