New push to hunt down Australia's 'most wanted'
Leon Mark Melzack and David Allen Shom are wanted over a series of child sex offences
Meet Australia's 17 "most wanted". Among them are accused murderers, known rapists and those on
the run from serious criminal charges.
Police say they are freely roaming the streets somewhere in Australia and they want the public's help
to finally them track down.
How well do you know what your neighbour is up to, or has been up to?
Or what activities they partook in before they moved next door?
Some of them are being sought by more than one state or territory, said Tony Carter, Chairman of Crime Stoppers Australia.
"These people live somewhere, they have neighbours," he said.
"How well do you know what your neighbour is up to, or has been up to? Or what activities they
partook in before they moved next door?
"Did they relocate from interstate and leave a crime legacy behind them?"
Of the five men wanted in Western Australia, three are thought to have fled overseas.
Leon Mark Melzack, 51, and co-accused David Allen Shom, 51, were charged with a series of child
sex offences in March, 1997, and bailed to face the Western Australian Magistrate's Court.
Both men failed to appear and bench warrants were issued for their arrest after inquiries
revealed the pair had left the country bound for Cambodia just two days after being granted bail.
These warrants are still active.
Evidence suggests that neither man has entered back into Australia under their real names but
whether they have assumed alternative identities remains a mystery.
Meanwhile Omar Hariri is wanted for fraudulently deceiving a WA bank by obtaining a total of $1.2
million in home loans from 2003 to 2004.
Hariri, under the guise of different aliases, is accused of fraudulently purchasing five home units,
with each loan application supported by documentation that had been falsely manufactured in order to
satisfy the loan requirements.
Hariri is of Lebanese descent and was a known resident in Sydney at the time. His aliases included
"Zakaria El Bakri", "John Sharif", "Mohammed Ahmed Zaidi" and "Ihab Radwan", and he may be using these
names to elude police, Mr Carter said.
Police were also on the hunt for Mark Adrian Perry, 43, in relation to the murder of Shane
Chartres-Abbott in Victoria in 2003. A warrant was issued in September, 2007, for his arrest.
Graham Gene Potter, aged in his 50s and also known as "Josh Lawson", is wanted in Victoria for
two counts of conspiracy to murder.
Potter was an associate of organised crime figures in Griffith, New South Wales, and Melbourne,
from where the criminal charges arose.
In recent times Potter has been known to be living in camping grounds and caravan parks and has
changed his appearance by dying his hair and growing a beard.
Detectives believe he is likely to still be hiding out in rural Australia, possibly in the northern
or western parts of the country.
He has a known interest in nursing sick and injured animals but used to carry guns and therefore
should be considered most dangerous, police warned.
Mr Carter warned that people are not to approach or try and apprehend these people because of their dangerous nature.
"If you see these people call us immediately on 1800 333 000 number or send the information online
at crimestoppers.com.au - either way you can remain totally anonymous - or call your local police station," he said.
"Crime Stoppers helps solve a crime every 14 minutes somewhere in the world, thanks to a vigilant community."
NSW Assistant Police Commissioner Peter Barrie, who is representing all Australian Police Commissioners in this
operation, said: "There is a wealth of untapped community information out there. At the moment we don't fully
know what they, the community know.
"We need the eyes and ears of the community to make Australia a safer place."
In recent years Australian police forces have had a number of successful state-based operations
targeting wanted persons, including Operation Rope for persons wanted on breach of parole warrants
in Victoria, and operation Infra Red, which was part of global fugitive hunt.
Australian Paedo-Tourism in Indonesia (Or: Bali High)
Australia’s recently-revived Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, is due to visit Indonesia this week, and will likely be
placing the issue of the “boat people” high on the agenda. The asylum seekers from places like Iraq, Iran, and
Afghanistan, pay people-smugglers to get on boats to Australia. It is perceived as a real problem, domestically,
for the Australian government, which claims Indonesia is not doing enough to catch the people-smugglers, and stem
the flow of the boats washing up on Australian shores.
Indonesian commentator, Iqhbal Sukokiman says that “Australian paedophiles keep washing up on our shores and it is
time to do something.” Perhaps, if the Australian government did more to stem the flow of Australian paedophiles to
Indonesia, and Bali in particular, the Indonesian government might be more sympathetic to the Australian government’s
position on the people-smugglers.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has reported that Bali is the most popular destination for Australian paedophiles.
It is also the most popular destination for Australian tourists in general, despite the two Bali terrorism incidents.
Fixing the problem of the flow of paedophiles to Bali would go a long way towards fixing relations with Australia’s largest,
and most important, neighbour.
The Royal Commission must look at this issue as a matter of priority.
Bernadette McMenamin, national director of Child Wise, Australia’s peak child protection lobby group, is
scathing about what she describes as inaction by AFP against Australian child sex offenders in Indonesia,
where Child Wise has been working for 12 years. The AFP traveled twice to Bali a few years back, to assess
the level of child sex tourism, a crime that carries a maximum jail term of 17 years for Australian offenders.
Commenting on the outcome, an AFP official said that “The AFP has not seen any anecdotal or official evidence
to suggest a surge in child sex offenders from Australia traveling to Bali.” Ms. McMenamin says that “The Australian
government will not take responsibility for exporting sex offenders.” Project Childhood, designed by Child Wise, and
funded through the Australian government’s foreign aid agency, AusAid, was dropped in Indonesia, even though AusAid
had identified Indonesia as the biggest destination for Australian child sex tourists.
Foreign pedophiles have infiltrated schools, orphanages, street kids’ centres, and other development agencies overseas,
McMenamin says. Previous postings have covered the dangers associated with these institutions, and the lack of protocols
within Australia to minimize those risks.
UNICEF estimates that 40,000 to 70,000 children are victims of sexual abuse in Indonesia, and that at least 30% of
female sex workers there are under-age. CASA has estimated that as many as 3,000 local children have fallen prey to
tourists in Bali. Normal Australian tourists on their way to Bali need to know that the person sitting next to them
on the plane could be going there to exploit local children.
Australia sends two types of child molesters to Indonesia. There are the paedo-tourists who tend to use trafficked
children. They are very difficult to catch. The least Australia could do would be to refuse a visa to ones who have
had previous convictions here.
The other type is the one who settles in the country, ingratiates himself with the locals, and them abuses their children.
A few of these have been caught, after long periods of activity. Usually, Indonesian authorities have no warning from Australian
Take the case of Paul Thompson, who was arrested in 2006 following visa irregularities by Indonesian authorities.
He had been traveling extensively in S. E. Asia on multiple fake passports, and it is believed he also left a trail
of victims. It turned out he was wanted in Australia, and subsequently extradited from Bali. Thirteen years previously,
he had escaped from an Australian prison where he had two years left to serve of a sentence for child sexual abuse.
When he faced the court in Australia, he made a plea for compassion. Magistrate Robert Burton accepted that Thompson
was “a changed person” who had “done it tough.” Mr. Burton then sentenced him to a further four months for escaping.
Leon Mark Melzack and David Allen Shom were charged in 1997 with child sex offences but, two days after being granted
bail, fled to Thailand and then Cambodia, after which the trail went cold. Sixteen years later, they are still on the
run, and believed to be living in Bali under assumed names. However, the Australian child abuse squad spokesperson says
that “we have no idea where they are.”
One who was caught was Paul Francis Callaghan. He had skipped bail in 2003 on a charge of abusing a 10-year old boy
in Australia. He had been living in Bali for several years, where he operated a surfboard business. Indonesian authorities
said that, while Callaghan lived in Bali, they had not been given any evidence, by Australian authorities, to suggest
Callaghan’s involvement in any crimes.
The Australian Government has budgeted $40 million to cover its own interests at the Royal Commission. Some of this
could be well spent on drawing up protocols and legislation to stop paedophile bail absconders going to Bali to set
up business anew. It could also spend something on setting up a paedophile register and passing information to child
protection authorities in other countries.
It could also fund child protection organisations to produce submissions to the Royal Commission on the issue of
Australian paedo-tourism. Finally, it could contact such organisations in other countries to gain an input from
them. A submission from the Indonesian Government could be very revealing.
The last word can be given to Iqhbal Sukokiman: “Life’s not all about winning Olympic medals, Australia.”
[Postscript: In one of the worst cases of child sexual exploitation ever recorded, two Australian men were
sentenced to 40 years prison in the U.S. They had “adopted” a baby boy for $8,000, and taken him around the
world for exploitation. Evidence of videos they produced was found when Queensland police raided their property
in Cairns. The institution, and country, where they obtained the boy was not revealed.]