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Serial rapist Robert John Fardon granted release into community

Type of protection : Granting release

Convicted rapist Robert John Fardon mug shot.One of Queensland's worst sex offenders has been released into the community after the State Government lost a final bid to keep him under strict monitoring.

Key points:

  • The State Government tried to extend an order where Fardon was subject to strict monitoring
  • The application was rejected but he will still be subject to reporting conditions
  • Fardon had been under strict supervision since his release from prison in 2013

Lawyers for the Queensland Attorney-General tried twice to have Robert John Fardon's longstanding supervision order extended after it lapsed in October last year.

In a judgement released online on Wednesday, Supreme Court Justice Helen Bowskill ruled the 70-year-old would no longer be subject to electronic monitoring, curfews and mandatory counselling.

Justice Bowskill said evidence given by three psychologists determined Fardon was not a serious danger to the community due to a number of factors including his age, the time passed since his last sexual offence and that he was "not a paedophile".

"The consistent expert opinion of the three psychiatrists is that the respondent poses a low risk of reoffending sexually, without a further supervision order," the judgement said.

"Whilst he has been subject of the supervision order, progressively he has been moving about the community relatively freely, going on outings, to shops and going fishing, without any problems.

The decision was delivered in a closed court in Brisbane last Thursday; however, a non-publication order was made to suppress the information for one week.

In the judgement, Justice Bowskill said the decision was suppressed because scrutiny from the media and the public could make Fardon's transition into ordinary life "difficult".

Justice Bowskill said Fardon had "already served a substantial penalty" for his crimes and "should be made to avoid the stress and destabilisation caused by intense media scrutiny and attendant community vigilantism".

Fardon still subject to reporting conditions

WATCH
Duration: 1 minute 32 seconds
Police Commissioner Ian Stewart addresses media about Fardon's release.

Fardon will still be automatically subject to other reporting conditions under new sex offender laws passed late last year.

In a statement, Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said it meant police would know where Fardon lives and travels, details of his phone and internet connections, social media accounts, interactions and passwords for the rest of his life.

The statement also said if Fardon failed to meet those reporting conditions, he could face five years in jail.

Queensland Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said Fardon would not be electronically monitored with a GPS tracker and police would not be applying for additional supervision.

"At this stage we don't have any triggers available to us, so we won't be making any application," he said.

However, he would not reveal how often police officers would be interacting with Fardon.

"This person has not been convicted of a criminal offence for a very, very large number of years," Commissioner Stewart said.

"He has been at large in the community for the past five years ... they have not to my knowledge committed any criminal offence, they have not breached any requirement that's been placed on them."

He said he "absolutely" understood why people would be concerned about the decision to release Fardon and not advise the public for a week.

"If we believed there was any threat to the community caused by this person during the last week then obviously we would have notified the community," he said.

Commissioner Stewart said Queensland had a rehabilitative system for people who committed offences.

"[Fardon is] demonstrating that the system works... that there is hope for people who make reasoned decisions," he said.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston speaks to the media outside the Bravehearts premises.
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston says it's disappointing sex offender Robert Fardon has been released into the community.(ABC News: Steve Keen)

Victim advocates 'gobsmacked' at release

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said it was disappointing Fardon had been released into the community.

"Bravehearts, like everyone else, are just gobsmacked at the fact that someone with a history of sexual and violent offending going back to the 1960s is able to be released," she said.

"It's great that police know where they are, but the neighbours need to know where they are too. People that are living in his community where he may be engaging with their children need to know he is in their community," she said.

"This system is hiding these sex offenders in our communities, they're not letting us know. My worst fear is who's next when he falls off the wagon, who's going to be there?"

Fardon's offending dates back to the 1960s, and over two decades he was responsible for a series of rapes and sexual assaults.

In 1989 he was jailed for raping and assaulting a woman.

He was released from prison in 2013 and has remained under strict supervision since then.

His exact living address was kept secret, but court documents showed he stayed with other sex offenders near a jail precinct.

Queensland Law Society President Bill Potts stressed for the public to remain calm.

"The court identified on the evidence before it that there was a danger of vigilantism," he said.

"Part of the problem with vigilantism is this, a community that walks in fear can sometimes react in fear

"We have to be very careful that if we are going to hunt monster that we not become monsters ourselves."

Source : https://amp.abc.net.au/article/10716960

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