Known sex offender lived unchecked in the community

Police Minister Michelle Roberts.
Police Minister Michelle Roberts.

Police Minister Michelle Roberts was unable to answer questions on where the system failed to allow a registered child sex offender to live in the community unchecked.

On Monday, a registered sex offender who was living in the South West was sentenced in the Busselton District Court to 11 years for 58 separate offences relating to child sexual abuse.

The man, who was not known to local police, had previously been convicted of child sex offences overseas and was deported back to Australia.

On 6PR, Ms Roberts admitted that she did not know how the system failed and that police would not give her information on whether this was an isolated incident.

She said the system had fallen down extremely badly and she could not find out whether this was a broader issue in WA.

“I do not have all the facts because under the legislation [police] say they cannot provide them to me,” she said.

The matter was brought to the attention of the minister in August last year when Shadow Minister for Police Peter Katsambanis raised a grievance about the management of registered sex offenders in regional WA.

Mr Katsambanis told parliament there were gaps in the management of sex offenders in regional WA, which had to do with resources and the size of the state.

While the offender was living in the South West, Mr Katsambanis said the man was involved with community groups, charitable causes, created a website and raised funds to run camps with young people.

“It is quite clear that this person slipped through the cracks despite being a registered sex offender,” Mr Katsambanis told parliament.

“Anecdotally, and from court evidence, it appears as though a lot of sex offenders move to regional WA once their jail terms are over.

“Many people would say that it is also because they come to the conclusion that by moving to regional WA, they may be able to escape the full gaze of the sex offender management squad.”

Vasse MLA Libby Mettam said nobody in the region knew about this man’s past.

“He was promoted (in) the paper for his community work when he had already served jail time for serious sex offences,” she said.

“The system is clearly broken and the Liberal opposition will be calling for an urgent review of the current legislation.

“I raised this matter with the Minister for Police last year and my colleague, the Shadow Minister for Police, Peter Katsambanis, presented a grievance on my behalf in response to this matter.”

Ms Mettam said the way the system worked at the moment was that unless there was a specific need to access the database, police at a local level had no indication that there was a sex offender in the region.

“This man was on the register and apparently meeting his reporting obligations, which meant local police were left completely in the dark,” she said. 

“Our laws in relation to how we manage these offenders must meet communities expectations.”

Ms Mettam said just like police officers put photos of bikies on their picture boards, they should be able to do the same for sex offenders.

“Unfortunately because of the legislation that protects the identity of these offenders, this can’t happen; this clearly needs to change.”