A three-time sex offender who victimized children a decade ago may not be the risk fearful neighbours in Abbotsford believe, says the man who rented his house out to the agency that houses him.

James Conway, 40, mentally handicapped and heavily medicated, is monitored by an electronic bracelet, and has 24-hour supervision in a house equipped with alarms and cameras, said Brian Vos, who wants cooler heads to prevail in the tense rural community.

“I’m a little disappointed because the message isn’t getting out,” Vos told CTV News. “He’s got health issues. He’s mentally challenged. He’s not a threat like they’re talking about.”

“I don’t condone his actions. I would hate it if it were my own kids,” Vos said. “But now I realize: where is he going to go? He is in the safest position possible.”

Conway was convicted in 2000 of a sexual assault, and then of sexual interference of a person under 16 in 2005. He has breached his probation conditions several times, including in February 2015, where he was arrested for sitting next to a young girl on a TransLink bus.

Conway was released in August to the house on Juanita Place in Bradner, which is owned by Vos but rented by WJS Canada, an agency working for Community Living BC. Neither agency returned phone calls on Sunday, but police said a worker lives with Conway, supervising him 24 hours a day.

Since he arrived Conway has not been found breaching his conditions, authorities say.

But police have been called to deal with 12 complaints of vandalism, including pouring concrete on the house, putting padlocks on doors, throwing rocks and painted signs hanging on public and private property that warn of a sexual predator.

“We believe we have maintained public safety,” said Const. Ian MacDonald, who added that Conway is a top priority for the force. “I very much doubt a breach will transpire.”

He said residents’ contention to local newspapers that it takes police 20 minutes to arrive in any emergency is wrong.

On Sunday, dozens of residents of Juanita Place carrying signs saying “Conway go home!” chanted outside the property - many of them children.

Residents are scared for their children, said one of the group’s leaders, Kim Iverson.

“It’s horrible,” she said. “We’ve been living in a prison here.”

Another resident, Trevor Alderliesten, wants Conway back in jail.

“Put this guy in the general prison population,” he said. When asked if he meant that would result in Conway getting stabbed, Alderliesten replied, “Nobody likes a pedophile.”

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun arrived to speak to the group, saying he had received a legal opinion that putting Conway into a residence violated Abbotsford’s zoning rules.

“This property isn’t zoned for this. It’s an agricultural area, zoned for single family use. This is more of a detention than anything else,” Braun said.

The city of Abbotsford has informed the province it believes its bylaws are being violated, and expects Conway to move on.

But the mayor had no answers about where Conway would move to.

“It’s not up to me to say where he goes. There’s a court order that allows him to live here. It’s unfortunate the city wasn’t consulted before the fact,” he said.

Vos said it’s unlikely the city’s zoning challenge will be successful as Conway is living there as his primary residence, with supervision, which complies with zoning rules.

Vos said he rented his house to an agency associated with Community Living BC in the hopes he could make a positive difference.

“I did this to be a change. I thought that I could help in my small part of the world, that I could make something better,” he said.