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
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)