How could a dangerous man have been freed?

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There is a huge question to be asked in the wake of serial sex offender David Sutherland’s latest terrible attack and it is quite simply this: How could it have happened?

How could the authorities release from prison a man considered still to be potentially dangerous?

How could they put at risk innocent women?

And what would they say to the teenager unfortunate to walk unknowingly into Sutherland’s path just five days after he left jail?

She has paid the price of what surely must be considered a flaw in the system, subjected as she was to an awful attack, on Christmas Eve of all days.

Her ordeal was at the hands of a man who was considered in a probation officer’s report to be a high risk to the public – a man who on more than one occasion before had approached an innocent woman in the street and attacked her.

Sutherland, though, had served his five-year sentence for previous offences including rape and so, we are told, had to be set free.

He was, we acknowledge, made the subject of some conditions on his release on licence, including observing a curfew and residing at a bail hostel in Fareham.

But those restrictions were plainly not enough. A man branded a danger to women was free to walk the streets during the day.

It is horrifying that he attacked again within one week. Whether prison is intended for reparation or revenge, in neither way did it have the desired effect on Sutherland.

Sentencing has moved on since Sutherland last appeared before the courts and now he is the subject of an indefinite jail term which we trust will never be over until such time as he is genuinely considered to no longer be a threat.

But what of other men who might soon be released, having served a set term, despite it being clear they are still dangerous?

Surely, if there is not a way in which they can be kept off the streets until they no longer pose a real risk, then that way must be found without delay.