A child rapist who ran a “campaign” of meeting girls for sex has had his prison sentence reduced after lodging an appeal.
Darren Edwards will be out on the streets within six years rather than 10, despite concerns that he is at “high risk” of re-offending.
The 21-year-old, formerly of Whitfield Gardens, was convicted of 17 crimes, including four of having sex with 14 and 15-year-old girls between 2016 and 2018.
He also raped an underage teen sometime between July and October 2017 and sent indecent communications to young girls.
In February, predator Edwards was sentenced to 10 years in prison – but his sentence has been cut to six years behind bars, with a further three years out on licence.
Jonathan Crowe, for Edwards, argued that the sentence was too harsh for someone of his age at the time of the offences, when he was between 17 and 19 years old.
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with Evening Telegraph newsletter
Appeal judge Lord Carloway ruled the sentence was “excessive” – but acknowledged social workers’ fears that the rapist will pose a threat upon release.
A risk analysis found that Edwards “took no responsibility for his offending behaviour” and was “unable to demonstrate any genuine empathy for his victims”.
In his written judgment, Lord Carloway said that whilst the offences were “serious . . . the question is whether the cumulative total of 10 years in custody is excessive, having regard in particular to the appellant’s youth at the time of the offences.
“He was aged between 17 and 19 years. The court is persuaded that the sentence is excessive.”
Keiran Watson, co-ordinator at support charity Eighteen and Under, decried it as a “slap in the face” to his victims.
He said: “At the age of 17 or 19, unless there’s been a genuine issue of mental health, it’s well above the age of criminal responsibility.
“It’s hard to understand why you would even consider letting him out after 10 years. Sentences are far too lenient for sexual offences.
“I can imagine, for now, that some of his victims are able to go about their lives – but when he is out that security is removed and will cause a huge amount of distress. It’s a shocking decision.”
Edwards also attempted to have his rape conviction scrubbed – but this was thrown out in court. The judge rebuked an argument from Mr Crowe that while the offender ran a “campaign to communicate with, meet and have sex with girls” his behaviour did not extend to rape.