Sex offender ordered to live just yards from Sunderland school

Highfield School, Fordfield Road, Sunderland.

Highfield School, Fordfield Road, Sunderland.

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A FLASHER warned to stay away from Sunderland schools has been living just metres from a city primary.

As part of his bail conditions, Steven Mewes – dubbed Stevo Paedo – was released from court on condition he does not venture near a school.

But the pervert, who would hide in undergrowth and expose his genitals to passing girls, was bailed to an address close to Highfield Primary School in Ford Estate.

The decision to allow a convicted offender to live so close to the school has been met with anger by parents and children’s charities.

As revealed in the Echo, Mewes was convicted of two counts of exposure after preying on girls walking to a school in Washington. He is yet to be sentenced.

Parents collecting their children from Highfield’s gates today demanded to know why they were not informed that Mewes was living so close.

“It’s absolutely disgusting. We should definitely have been informed,” one mum told the Echo.

“He should be in jail, not next to a school.”

Another parent said: “It beggars belief, my little boy walks to school by himself. I’m shocked.”

Claude Knights, the CEO of child protection charity Kidscape said Mewes’ housing arrangements provide little reassurance to the public.

“This is a very complex case as it involves a man with a history of learning difficulties engaging in inappropriate behaviour leading to the distress of young female victims,” she said.

“Steven Mewes was bailed on condition that he does not venture near a school, yet by allowing him to return to his own tenancy whilst on bail he is residing in close proximity to a large primary school.

“This situation is very unhelpful in relation to the management of the offender and provides the local community with very little reassurance.

“The agencies overseeing the care and support of Steven Mewes must ensure that appropriate safeguards are in place.”

Mewes is receiving care from Sunderland City Council social services.

Councillor Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, said: “This person has his own tenancy and the court has agreed in his bail conditions that he should continue to reside there while he is on bail.

“The council’s role is to provide for his care and support needs.

“The council is working closely with the police and health partners to ensure that appropriate actions are taken and safeguards are put in place.”

The Echo tried approaching Mewes but, after being told he was at work, we were asked to leave the premises.

He is now understand to have left the Sunderland area.

A Northumbria Police Spokeswoman said: “The public can be reassured that sex offenders are subject to tried and tested multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPA) used to monitor their location and behaviour. We would not discuss these plans in detail.

“However, the public are also entitled to protection from any potential risk posed by offenders in the community. The Public Protection arrangements work to minimise the risk posed by each individual offender and to protect the public.”

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is reported recently as saying: “We work together with police and partners to ensure the safety of our communities from sex offenders.

“The public are entitled to be protected and I have recently expressed my support for tighter restrictions on convicted sex offenders and those who pose a risk of sexual harm.”