Crisis talks after jailed rapists simply walk out of Village of the Damned in Ararat
strolled unhindered from the Village of the Damned - home to some of Victoria's
worst sex offenders - in the latest alarming mishap to plague the justice system.
The pair did a midnight flit, ignoring their monitoring bracelets, and were at large for 13 hours before
being dramatically arrested.
Both men - deemed depraved enough not to be released unconditionally at the end of their jail terms - walked
out of Corella Place, near Ararat, where they live under special court order. They were on an 8pm-to-7am curfew.
Eight police units rushed to the Western Highway at Buangor, 23km from Corella Place, at 12.40pm yesterday to seize
the men, whose identities are suppressed by legal orders.
The case follows the raising of major concerns about the justice system's handling of Adrian Ernest Bayley,
the violent rapist who murdered Jill Meagher while on parole.
Corrections Minister Edward O'Donohue was yesterday briefed, and Ararat Mayor Ian Wilson will hold urgent
talks with Corrections Victoria today about how to better protect the rural township.
The State Government last night pledged new tracking technology, to be worn by those at Corella Place
from July 7, would make disappearing tougher. The current bracelets alert staff only that the wearer has gone, but not where.
"You'll switch from knowing they've gone to knowing they've gone and where they've gone," spokesman James Talia said.
Police defended not revealing the disappearance earlier, saying they did not want to drive the deviants underground.
It was unclear how the pair got to where they were arrested, but one theory is that they walked through the night in
the bitter cold.
One of the men had a history of sex offending, including attacking a five-year-old boy in the toilet of a
shopping centre in 2004.
He had absconded from Corella Place previously, receiving a two-month jail term, and had eight
years left to serve on his order.
The other man was jailed in 2007 for serious sex offences against a woman and was four months into a five-year stay.
The pair will be charged with breaching the Serious Sex Offender (Detention and Supervision) Act.
Five people have absconded from Corella Place since it opened seven years ago.
Commissioner of Corrections Victoria Jan Shuard said the men could not be kept behind walls and fences
because they had already served their time in prison.
"They can't be, because this is a civil scheme," Ms Shuard said. "They have completed their sentence.
"They are not under prison sentence, so you can't contain or imprison someone
if they're not under a prison sentence," she said.
Under the scheme, detainees are able to have items ranging from mobile phones to cars,
but are denied computer access.
"They are members of the community, so they get the same access to money like everyone else does.
Some would have jobs that are living in the broader community," Ms Shuard said.
About half of the 101 men now subject to the scheme live in the community.
Cr Wilson said though the community supported the correctional centre, Ararat residents had
to be confident that it was secure.
"Obviously it's not ideal someone has left the facility," the Mayor said. "It was detected very
early and a search was conducted immediately."
But the issue had prompted an urgent meeting between Corrections Victoria and the concerned Mayor.
"Our first priority is to maintain the safety and the confidence of the community," he said.
"As the Mayor I have contacted Minister Donohue's office and also the Commissioner of Corrections
office to organise a meeting.
"A meeting was scheduled for 10am. I'm extremely pleased with that," Cr Wilson said.
"I'm going to get some straight answers. We want to know what is happening with the GPS tracking."
Cr Wilson said he was seeking reassurance at the meeting that improvements would be made to stop offenders
just walking out of the detention centre.
Cr Wilson said he had not received complaints about Corella Place, adjacent to Ararat Prison, but was
open to any suggestions to make it safer for the public.
Herald Sun (20-6-2013)