A mother of two was charged after she outed a paedophile neighbour who had moved into her street.
Claire Varin, 37, used Sarah’s Law to discover a man on her street had been jailed for having child pornography on his computer.
She contacted the police after the man, in his 30s, who introduced himself as “Tom”, began acting strangely around her daughters, aged eight and 12.
Ms Varin used Sarah’s Law, named after murdered eight-year-old Sarah Payne, which allows parents, guardians or carers to ask police if someone has a conviction for child sex offences.
Those who receive information through Sarah’s Law must sign a non-disclosure form which bars them from telling anyone else.
Ms Varin was charged with breaching data protection laws, although the case against her was subsequently dropped because of a lack of evidence.
She told the Sunday People: “Something needs to change.
“What’s the point of Sarah’s Law if you can’t protect people? I was told to keep it to myself but how could I live with myself if something did happen? It’s every parent’s nightmare.
“I had to live with this hanging over my head for months. The stress of the court case, the threat of losing the house, the police coming to see us. It’s been awful.”
Ms Varin, a carer, contacted West Yorkshire Police after Tom, who said he was a trainee barrister, moved in during the summer of 2017.
He called on her door and asked her husband Sam if he could take their youngest daughter fruit-picking.
The couple declined, but the next day Tom came back with a tub of berries for their daughter.
At the beginning of 2018, after she used Sarah’s Law to request information, police told Ms Varin that Tom had been convicted six years previously for having 97 films of child abuse on his laptop.
“I felt sick,” she said. “They didn’t tell me he’d been jailed for eight months but I googled him and saw he had.”
A few days later, her husband confronted the sex offender, resulting in police returning to warn him about making threats.
A few weeks later, Sam confronted him again after spotting him using sign language to try to communicate with their eldest daughter, who is deaf.
Ms Varin said the couple were later threatened with eviction by the housing association because the sex offender had complained about them.
She was later charged with breaching data protection laws and was summonsed to appear before magistrates’ court.
She pleaded not guilty to knowingly or recklessly disclosing personal data, and was due to go to court this week, but the case has been discontinued.
Ms Varin said the stress had contributed to the break-up of her marriage, although she and Sam remain good friends.
She has since moved out of the street, as had the sex offender.