An “extremely dangerous”

rapist has walked free after being prosecuted for a crime that does not exist.

David Shields, 58, was accused of stripping naked in front of a woman on a beach and sexually assaulting her.

The attack, last October, took place less than a mile from where he raped a 26-yearold woman in January 1992.

Shields was sentenced to nine months in prison for breaching a sexual offences prevention order given to him when he was released from his ten year jail sentence.

However, he was charged under outdated laws and has now been released from jail on a technicality after serving just two months of his sentence.

At London’s Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Maddison blasted the legal blunders which led to Shields having the breach matter against him dropped.

He described it as: “A woeful state of affairs.”

He added: “What is particularly disturbing is this mix up has occurred in the case of a man there are g rounds for believing is extremely dangerous.

“I make no bones about it.”

In 2005, Shields was given a life-long sexual offences prevention order (Sopo) because of the risk he posed to women.

However, the charge he was tried for at Lewes Crown Court in March was breaching a “sex offender order”

under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which is now an outdated offence.

Mr Justice Maddison freed Shields on bail on May 18 after being told the charge he faced “was not known to the law”.

The Argus can now report the judge’s decision after three appeal judges overturned Shields’ conviction and reporting restrictions were lifted.

Ordering his release in May, Mr Justice Maddison said police viewed Shields as a “significant risk to female members of the public”.

The judge also had to lift a nighttime curfew and rules stating that Shields, of Cornwallis Terrace, Hastings, must report daily to Hastings police station.

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: “The police investigate and gather evidence, which is given to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who make the decision to charge.”

A CPS lawyer said another trial was “not in the interests of justice” as Shields has served at least part of his original sentence which was nine months. He served two months before the blunder was spotted.

The lawyer added Shields was still subject to the indefinite Sopo and a retrial would involve the alleged victim having to endure testifying in court a second time.

A CPS spokeswoman said: “There was a technical error in the wording of the charge put before the court which regrettably no one spotted until it was too late to rectify.

“We have taken steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”