Man Who Molested Boy Skips Jail Over Covid-19 Fears
Convicted child sex offender Robert Crick has avoided jail because of COVID-19, sparking fears it will now set a dangerous precedent that could allow other criminals to do the same.
ManA NSW District Court sentenced convicted Crick of molesting a five-year-old boy last year after finding him guilty of sexual intercourse with a child.
A judge then sentenced him to an 18-month Community Corrections Order, which allowed him to serve his time at home.
The Crown appealed the sentence, and a panel of Supreme Court Judges recently found it was “manifestly inadequate”, saying Crick should have been sent to jail for up to three years.
“Nothing else could adequately reflect the criminality of the offence, denounce it and, importantly, deter others who might commit such crimes against children,” Justice Helen Wilson said.
But Crick's defence team successfully argued he should stay free because his respiratory condition and old age made him vulnerable to a COVID-19 outbreak in the prison system.
In dismissing the appeal, Justice Wilson said: “In the unusual circumstances of this case I would not proceed to re-sentence, despite the clear inadequacy of the sentence imposed at first instance”.
Crick is a retired public servant, who spent years representing the government overseas.
He was photographed with George Bush Senior on the Great Wall of China in 1975 before Bush became President.
The now 77-year-old had no previous criminal record before he was convicted of having sex with a child.
He declined to be interviewed but maintains his innocence.
Instead of spending his time behind bars, Crick is now serving his sentence at his home in Canberra, where he's free to come and go as he pleases and won’t be forced to do any community service, because no organisation was available to offer work to a child sex offender.
Crick's defence lawyer Peter Woodhouse told 10 News First his client’s medical condition meant he was at a much greater risk than other offenders.
“They have the right to serve that without being put at a greater risk of contracting a terribly infectious disease, where the risk of death in certain circumstances is increased,” he said.
“(The defence) doesn’t apply to someone who's young and fit and healthy, it just suggests that some people in certain circumstances who are more vulnerable should be treated differently.”
But Victim’s Advocate Howard Brown is concerned the case has set a dangerous precedent, which can now be used by other criminals to avoid jail during the ongoing pandemic.
“This was a very serious offence, which should’ve had very serious ramifications,” he said.
“The community must have confidence in the administration of justice. This decision erodes that confidence.”
Brown called on the Department of Public Prosecutions to challenge the sentence in the High Court.