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Rapist remains behind bars after Bleijie appeals his release

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie. Kari Bourne

UPDATE: Convicted sex offender Robert John Fardon's release into the community has been blocked after the Attorney-General launched an 11th-hour bid to keep him locked up.

The 64-year-old has spent 23 years in jail with his three most serious crimes relating to sex offences against two young children.

After reviewing his indefinite status, Supreme Court Justice Debra Mullins on Wednesday ordered Fardon be released into the community under a strict supervision order.

Fardon - the first Queenslander given an indefinite jail sentence - was to be released into the Wacol precinct at 4pm on Thursday.

But after hearing the Attorney-General's urgent application to stay the release order, Court of Appeal Justice John Muir agreed there was an appeal case to be heard.

Counsel for the Attorney-General, Walter Sofronoff, argued Justice Mullins erred in failing to take into account the evidence of psychiatrists regarding Fardon's risk of re-offending.

Fardon's barrister Dan O'Gorman highlighted the very stringent conditions Fardon was to be subjected to upon his release and comments the Police Minister made in the media about throwing all possible resources into monitoring the offender.

But Justice Muir was satisfied the Attorney-General had an arguable case and set down an appeal against Justice Mullin's decision on February 27.

He acknowledged the stay would deprive Fardon of the "personal liberty to which the order under consideration would entitle him to at 4pm".

Justice Muir said it was not irrelevant Fardon had a long period of incarceration and in recent times had been released then returned to custody.

"It is not in my view in the respondent's best interests that he be released into the community and at the same time exposed to the risk of being returned to prison within a very short period if the appeal should succeed," he said.

If the state is unsuccessful in keeping Fardon behind bars on February 27, Premier Campbell Newman has vowed to take other legal avenues.

"If we are not successful on the 27th we will continue to other legal perimeters and we certainly have a contingency plan we are working on as well," he said.

"I want to assure Queenslanders that we are taking this matter extremely seriously. We are going to everything possible using the legal system to ensure they are protected."

While relieved, Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnson believes Fardon's case should never have got to this far.

"This person is unsafe to be released and it should have been vigorously contested right from the outset," she said.

 

Decision on Fardon appeal expected this afternoon

THE Attorney General has launched a bid to keep serial rapist Robert Fardon behind bars.

Supreme Court Justice Debra Mullins on Wednesday ordered Fardon be released from custody on Thursday at 4pm.

Fardon has been in an out of jail for most of his life for violent sex crimes.

The 64-year-old was the first Queenslander to be given an indefinite jail term under the 2003 Dangerous Prisoner Legislation.

In an attempt to keep Fardon in jail, the Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie has made an application in the Court of Appeal for a stay of proceedings.

Barrister for the Attorney General, Walter Sofronoff, said the stay was warranted because of public safety.

He argued Justice Mullins erred in failing to take into account the evidence of two psychiatrists regarding Fardon's risk of reoffending if released.

Dr Donald Grant placed Fardon at a moderate to high risk of further offending if released into the community.

But Justice Mullins found the risk could be managed if Fardon was subjected to a strict supervision order.

Mr Sofronoff also argued there was a error of law as to why the two psychiatrists opinions were not active in determining the outcome.

He argued the opinions ought to have been determinative in refusing Fardon's release.

But Fardon's barrister Dan O'Gorman argued the psychiatrists options should be interpreted otherwise.

He claimed the psychiatrists conceded there was some risk of Fardon was released but pursuant to a supervision order, he could be managed.

Mr O'Gorman referred to comments Police Minister Jack Dempsey made that all the resources of Corrective Services would used to monitor Fardon.

He said Fardon would be subjected to a set of very stringent conditions, including where he could reside and wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet.

Justice John Muir will deliver his decision at 2:45pm today.

 

EARLIER: Queensland's Attorney-General will make an immediate stay application to stop authorities releasing serial sex offender Robert John Fardon on Thursday.

Jarrod Bleijie has also instructed Crown Law to appeal the decision handed down in the Brisbane Supreme Court on Wednesday to release him to the Wacol precinct on a supervision order.

Sexual offence prevention advocate Hetty Johnston had earlier slammed the decision to release the 64-year-old psychopath, predicting he would breach his supervisor order or reoffend within 12 months.

The Bravehearts founder said she was "just appalled" Fardon would be released in the community from Thursday.

"We've come to expect no different though," she said of the decision.

"Thank goodness for the Royal Commission into child sexual assault.

"I hope they look at decisions like this and put them on the dinosaur bucket where they belong and start to put the civil rights and human rights of children and families before those of convicted repeat child sex offenders."

Ms Johnston said she believed, as did two psychiatrists who assessed Fardon, that he was still a "serious danger" to the community.

"How many women and children are going to have to pay the price for this man's freedom?" she said.

"This is an appalling decision and just trashes the whole notion of community safety."

Ms Johnston said Fardon, who had been on an indefinite sentence, would be in a precinct "opposite a normal community with children going to school" and she feared the people living nearby.

Justice Debra Mullins said Fardon's moderately high to high risk of sexual reoffending was an unacceptable risk and that he remained "a serious danger to the community".

But she said adequate protection of the community from the risk of violent sexual offending was not a "precise measurement or prediction" and found the community could be protected through a stringent supervision order.

"The act does not contemplate that arrangements under a supervision order to prevent the risk of reoffending must be watertight," she said.

Fardon, born in Murwillumbah in NSW, is supposed to be released into the Wacol precinct at 4pm on Thursday under a five-year supervision order.

He is banned from going unsupervised to a place that houses children, intellectually disabled persons, mentally ill persons or people with substance misuse difficulties.

Fardon must continue treatment from psychiatrists and psychologists as directed and cannot have contact with his previous victims.

He must comply with curfew and monitoring directions, hand over phone and computer password so Queensland Corrective Services can randomly examine them, and must abstain from drugs and alcohol.

Fardon - the first sex offender jailed indefinitely under Queensland laws - has spent almost 23 years in prison since October 1980.

The three most serious crimes relate to sexual offences, two involving children.

Queensland Corrective Services commissioner Marlene Morison said the department dedicated considerable resources to the supervision and surveillance of dangerous sex offenders.

She said offenders on orders under the Dangerous Prisoners (Sexual Offenders) Act 2003 had strict conditions and intensive supervision, including GPS electronic monitoring, home visits, drug and alcohol testing and restrictions on where they can live and who they associate with.

"Mr Fardon will be subject to electronic monitoring in the form of GPS tracking and will have curfew (initially 24 hours) and geographic limits imposed as required by his supervision order," she said.

"This will involve restrictions on when he is allowed to leave the Wacol accommodation as well as limitations on where he can go in the community.

"GPS tracking will ensure his movements and activities in the community are closely monitored.

"The system will provide immediate alerts, should Mr Fardon breach a curfew or move into an area with restrictions.

"Any re-offence or contravention by an offender is a serious matter and action is taken very quickly".

Topics:  brisbane supreme court, jail, jarrod bleijie, release, sex offender


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