Judge Stephen Thackray no doubt a paedophile

Judge’s decision to have baby Gammy’s twin Pipah raised by sex offender father ‘appalling’.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston has slammed a judge’s decision to let baby Pipah be raised by a convicted child sex offender.

A JUDGE’S order to have a baby girl raised by a convicted sex offender has been slammed by Australia’s leading child protection campaigner.

In a shocking decision handed down in the Family Court of Western Australia yesterday, Justice Stephen Thackray ordered the twin sister of baby Gammy, the child at the centre of an international surrogacy dispute after being left in Thailand, remain with her sex offender father.

David Farnell, the biological father of the pair, has 22 prior convictions for child sexual abuse.

Bravehearts chief executive Hetty Johnston has called the decision, which will see baby Pipah raised by Mr Farnell and his wife Wendy, appalling.

 “It flies in the face of all the contemporary research around child sex offenders and grooming behaviour,” she told news.com.au.

“This is about as bad as it gets.”

A media storm erupted when news broke early 2014 that Pipah’s twin brother Gammy, who was born to a Thai surrogate mother, was left in Thailand after his WA parents found he would suffer Down syndrome.

Yesterday’s judgment decided the child was not abandoned as was reported at the time, and ordered Pipah, now two years old, remain in the custody of the Farnells.

Court rules WA family did not abandoned baby with Down syndrome

Convicted child sex offender David Farnell and his wife Wendy will continue to raise baby Pipah.

Charged with deciding where the little girl should reside, Justice Thackray said he took into account the fact that Mr Farnell was a convicted sex offender, previously jailed for molesting young girls.

“While it is a matter of grave concern to leave any child in the home of a convicted sex offender, I have accepted the expert evidence that while there is a low risk of harm if Pipah stays in that home, there is a high risk of harm if she were removed,” he said in his judgment.

Speaking with news.com.au, Ms Johnston claimed there was no situation where a child would be at higher risk than while in the care of a convicted child sex offender.

“This is nonsensical. It is dangerous, it is an experiment with a human life, and it is elevating the civil rights of a convicted registered child sex offender over the human rights of a child who has every right to be raised in a safe and nurturing environment, and that is not what Mr Farnell can offer,” she said.

“This is not in the best interest of this child.”

Thai surrogate mother Pattaramon Chanbua with baby Gammy.

Ms Johnston said the case was one of the worst case examples of a wider problem within the family court system.

She said courts routinely missed or ignored obvious clues children were in danger, and made poor decisions “because clearly they’re ignorant of the realities of child sex offenders”, and hinted at a double standard in the system.

“They take kids away from mothers in hospital in cases where the mother is incapable of caring for that child, but they’re handing babies to men who are convicted sex offenders. Is this a mates club that says men have greater rights than women?” she said.

“I don’t understand it, I don’t accept it and I’m really full of fear for this child and others who are let down by the family courts.”

The couple has been able allowed to keep Pipah on the condition they adhere to a safety plan that bans Mr Farnell from being alone with his daughter.

A Department of Child Protection report found that although Pipah was to remain in the care of the Farnells, “due to the risk of grooming, which may take place from a very young age, Pipah is assessed as not safe alone in the company of (Mr Farnell)”.

The safety plan requires Pipah also not be left with only Mr Farnell and his wife, “due to the incalculable level of (Mrs Farnell’s) ability to protect Pipah from grooming behaviours”.

Another adult, from a nominated “safety network”, has moved into the family home to assist with this, the judgment said.

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