Advocates 'Gobsmacked' Serial Sex Offender Robert Fardon Has Been Freed
Child safety advocates are "gobsmacked" by the release of one of Queensland's worst sex offenders into the community.
A Queensland court has lifted a supervision order dictating the living arrangements and curfews of Robert John Fardon, it was revealed on Wednesday, meaning he will be monitored by police but not by a GPS tracker.
Fardon was first convicted in 1967, then aged 18, for sexual abuse offences against a 10-year-old girl. In 2003, he became the first person to be jailed in Queensland indefinitely under new laws targeting repeat sex offenders. But he was released in 2013 on a supervision order.
The latest decision signals the state government's failed final bid to keep him under strict monitoring after his supervision order lapsed in October last year.
The Queensland government made a case to the Brisbane Supreme Court in November to extend the order and Faro's classification as a dangerous prisoner.
In a judgment released online on Wednesday, Justice Helen Bowski ruled Fardon would no longer be subject to electronic monitoring, curfews and mandatory counselling.
She said evidence given by three psychiatrists determined Fardon was not a danger to the community and that he was "not a paedophile".
"Whilst he has been subject of the supervision order, progressively he has been moving about the community relatively freely, going on outings, to shops and going fishing, without any problems," it reads.
There is no evidence the respondent suffers from any form of sexual paraphilia. He is not a paedophile. There is no evidence of ongoing sexual preoccupation.
The decision was handed down in a closed court last week, but a non-publication order suppressed the information until its public release on Wednesday.
"I am not satisfied that the evidence establishes to the requisite high degree of probability that the respondent is a serious danger to the community in the absence of a further supervision order," Bowski said.
The ruling has been slammed by Hetty Johnston, founder of Bravehearts, who believes Fardon is part of a small percentage of offenders who should never be released from jail.
"This is not a man that can ever be trusted in the community," she told reporters.
Robert John Fardon should be behind bars and should die in jail. It's only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt.
"It's incredibly sad that our system allows them to be released."
Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington, who had been calling for Fardon to remain strictly supervised "for the rest of his life", blamed his release on the government's incompetence.
Under Labor's changes, police must apply for an order to use GPS monitoring for a period of time.
Fardon monitored as a 'reportable offender'
Fardon now automatically falls under the child sex offender laws passed in September and will still be subject to other reporting.
In a statement, Attorney-General Yvetta D'ath said police would know where Fardon lives and travels, details of his phone and internet connections, social media accounts, interactions and passwords for the rest of his life.
"If Fardon fails to meet these reporting conditions, he could face five years in jail," she said.
Speaking to media on Wednesday, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart said he had no knowledge of Fardon re-offending or breaching supervision orders since his release from prison.
"I want to be very clear about this -- I do not condone the actions of this person in the way that they have conducted themselves throughout their lifetime," he said.
But the system that we run as a State is one that is designed to assist people to make better decisions, to become members of our society that don’t offend and that’s what’s occurring in this case.
Commissioner Stewart confirmed Fardon would not wear a GPS tracker and that police would not be applying for additional supervision.
He would not disclose how often police officers would be interacting with him.
'The community is rightfully fearful'
Commissioner Stewart made an assurance to the community that police "will always do everything we can to prevent people from committing any offence".
"That includes people who are subject to this type of order," he said.
But Johnston said the community is rightfully concerned.
"Our judiciary and our governments are allowing these dangerous sex offenders to be released back into the community. When you do that, the community is fearful and rightly so," she said.
"They don’t know who these people are, what they look like, if they’re engaging with their children."
"I think this is a failure of the whole system. This is what the community is railing against... they just want solutions."
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Featured image: Queensland Corrective Services