Shetland Kids Grounded As Abuser Bailed To Estate

Parents living in a council housing scheme in Shetland demand urgent answers from Shetland Islands Council and the police after a paedophile was housed in the neighbourhood.

They say neither they nor the head teacher of the nearby primary school were informed that 52 year old Michael Takoulas was to be given temporary accommodation in the Turniebrae estate, in Dunrossness.

Last month, Takoulas was released on bail after pleading guilty to sexually abusing three girls, aged nine, 11 and 12, in Lerwick. He is due for sentencing before Lerwick Sheriff Court on 17 December.

Parents said last night (Monday) that it had taken them almost a week to realise who their new neighbour was, by which time two young girls had already knocked on his door and spoken to him to find out if he had any kids to play with.

Contacting housing services to get an explanation they said they “drew a complete blank”, but police officers told them to be extra vigilant and “to keep the kids in”, according to one parent.

The parents will now hand in a petition with signatures from every adult in the community demanding that their concerns are taken seriously, and that Mr Takoulas is being removed if possible.

One parent, who said she would not liked to be named, said: “I think it is shocking. It was put to housing why this person was housed here and why have we been treated so poorly, but the only reply we got was that they could not speak about a tenant.”

She added that the 15 children in the community had all lost their freedom as parents were walking them to school and they were not allowed outside on their own any more.

“I don’t think that’s fair. Our bairns have lost all their freedom, while this man is out on bail. He has got more rights than they have,” she said.

Local councillor Allison Duncan said he had received at least 30 emails and phone calls from concerned parents and had managed to get some concessions from the police.

“Not even the head teacher in the school knew about this, and it was me who broke the news to her, because I was concerned for the children in my constituency, including my two wee grand children.

“It was a multi agency decision, mainly by the police, social work and criminal justice, to house him there. I think there were only a limited number of houses in Shetland where they could have put him,” he said.

The council’s housing service said that they were unable to comment on the case when contacted by the Shetland News.

A spokeswoman for the Lerwick police station said officers would not discuss the case, but in a statement Northern Constabulary said they were aware of the high level of concern and anxiety in the community.

“The inter agency approach aims to ensure that the correct balance is achieved between rights of individuals to privacy and confidentiality and the right of children and vulnerable adults to be protected from abuse,” it read.

Mr Takoulas said he did not enjoy being housed in Turniebrae and was well aware of the upset he was causing.

“I don’t want to be here. I wish they could put me in the middle of nowhere – on a croft somewhere out of everybody’s way,” he said.

“I do understand people’s concern and all I can do is apologise profusely. I’m not a threat to anyone. I’m not a predator. I’ve got kids of my own,” he said.