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Paedophiles Avoid Jail

ALMOST one-third of convicted pedophiles receive suspended jail sentences, leaving victims and their parents fearful of reprisals.
Figures obtained by The Advertiser show 13 of the 43 sexual predators convicted in 2003 - or 30 per cent - received suspended sentences in the Supreme and District courts
In 2002, 25 per cent of pedophiles received suspended sentences.
Parents of victims say the figures show judges pay more attention to the circumstances of the offender than the fears of the children.
"They are bloody disgusting, I cant believe them," said 'Mary', whose seven-year-old son was attacked in a park.
"Obviously the Judges are not thinking about the victim - or the potential next victim - because if they were, they would lock these people away."
Victim Support Service chief executive Michael Dawson urged the courts to give greater consideration to the fears of abused children.
"When an offender is given a suspended sentence, victims and their parents feel fear, helplessness, and a sense of injustice and total confusion," he said.
"In many cases, they feel like they have been given a life sentence, while the offender has been given a suspended 'slap on the wrist'."
The figures, from the Office of Crime Statistics, show one-third of offenders were released on suspended sentence in 1993, 36.7 per cent in 1999 and 23 per cent in 2001.
In 2000, more pedophiles were released into the community than were jailed - 18 offenders (76 per cent of those convicted) were given suspended sentences.
The average sentence for those jailed, meanwhile, has risen from 60 months in 1998 to 91 months for offences against children under 12, and from 38 months to 52 months for crimes against teenagers.
Mr Dawson said victims wanted assurances their attackers would never offend again. "When a suspended sentence is given, many vic- tims feel their issues have not been given due weight," he said.
Mary agreed. "We need to review how these decisions are made,.. it's horrible knowing that they are out there in the community."

Adelaide Advertiser (18-1-2005)
Sean Fewster

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