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Paedophile who raped girl and preyed on children as young as four dies in prison

John Harrison, 73, from Irvine, in Ayrshire, Scotland, carried out “calculated and predatory sexual abuse” and was serving his eight-year prison sentence at HMP Barlinnie

A paedophile who raped a girl and preyed on children as young as four has died in prison.

Twisted John Harrison, 73, was locked up for eight years in June 2019.

His crimes included rape of a young girl, and lewd and libidinous conduct.

The pervert preyed on a total of seven girls and boys, who were as young as four at the time, from the 1960s to the 1990s.

Harrison, of Irvine, Ayrshire, denied ten charges during a trial at the High Court in Glasgow, but a jury convicted him.

At the time Judge Andrew Cubie told the pervert he was guilty of ‘calculated and predatory sexual abuse’.

He was serving his sentence in HMP Barlinnie when he died.

A spokesman for the Scottish Prison Service said: “John Harrison, 73, a prisoner from HMP Barlinnie has died.

“He was convicted at Glasgow High Court in June 2019.

“Police Scotland have been informed and the matter reported to the procurator fiscal.

“A Fatal Accident Inquiry will be held in due course.”

Meanwhile, a programme to free prisoners early to help jails cope with coronavirus has been paused after six inmates were released by mistake.

The low-risk offenders were candidates for early release but were let out too soon after an “administrative error”, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said.

After the flaw was spotted, they all “returned compliantly to prison”, a spokeswoman added.

The Government early release scheme, designed to avoid thousands of often cell-sharing inmates becoming infected, was paused on Thursday and is due to resume next week.

Coronavirus cases have been confirmed in half of the prisons in England and Wales.

Inmates were let out of two open Category D prisons in Gloucestershire and Derbyshire, Leyhill and Sudbury, along with one inmate from the Isis Category C prison and young offenders institute in south-east London.

The Prison Service attributed blame to human error and said processes are being strengthened.

Up to 4,000 prisoners in England and Wales were to be temporarily released from jail in an effort to control the spread of the virus.

Launching the scheme at the start of the month, the MoJ said selected low-risk offenders would be electronically tagged and temporarily released on licence in stages, although they could be recalled at the first sign of concern.

A total of 255 prisoners had tested positive for Covid-19 in 62 jails as of 5pm on Thursday, the MoJ said, and 13 inmates have died.

Some 138 prison staff have also contracted the virus in 49 prisons, as well as seven prisoner escort and custody services staff.

Some 700 staff have been tested and 6,268 are self-isolating, according to the latest available figures.

An MoJ spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a small number of low-risk offenders who were released from prison under the temporary early release scheme following an administrative error.

“The men were released too early but were otherwise eligible under the scheme, and returned compliantly to prison when asked to do so.

“We have strengthened the administrative processes around the scheme to make sure this does not happen again.”