Rapists out on parole

TWO rapists have been paroled in Tasmania despite one refusing sex offender treatment and the other raping a woman at knifepoint while already on parole.

The men's release has prompted concern about Tasmania's lenient jail terms for sex offenders and the parole process.

One of the men was paroled in March less than two years after going to jail for raping his partner's five-year-old granddaughter.

The man was given a total of three years for the rape and possessing child exploitation and bestiality material.

He was caring for the child while her parents were on holiday at the time.

Because he continued to deny his guilt the man did not participate in Risdon Prison's sex offender program, New Directions, which is regarded as an important step in reducing recidivism. 

In a Parole Board decision published this week the man was to live with his victim's grandmother on release.

The other case involves a horrific home invasion by a man the former chief justice Ewan Crawford described as having  a ``disturbing record for violence''.

The 22-year-old man was in a relationship with the victim when he became enraged that she was spending Father's Day with her family.

He armed himself with a ``large, vicious-looking knife'' and broke into her home in the early hours of the morning. 

For the next hour he raped her while holding a knife to her throat, which he used to scratch her chest.

At the time, he was on parole for assault and robbery. 

``What he did was violent and cruel, out of a desire to express his domination over her,'' chief justice Crawford said during sentencing in  February 2010.

He was given five years' jail.

In a decision also published this week the Parole Board said the man had been assessed as ``having a moderate to high risk of long-term sexual recidivism''.

The board said it refused his three previous parole requests due to his failure to take part in sex offender therapy and a lack of empathy for the victim. 

He also offended while in jail, which saw time added to his sentence. 

But the board said the man had improved his behaviour and completed New Directions. 

The state government plans on making sex offender treatment compulsory, although is yet to explain how it will work with inmates who refuse to admit guilt. 

According to a report released last year, Tasmania treats sex offences more leniently than any other state or territory.

The Tasmanian Sentencing Advisory Council report shows that between 2001 and 2011 the average sentence for rape was three years and two months while the maximum was five years.

In Victoria, the average was five years with a maximum of 16.

Former premier Lara Giddings last year called for tougher sentences for rapists to bring the state into line with other jurisdictions. 

The council is preparing final advice for Attorney-General Vanessa Goodwin on the issue.

Yesterday Bravehearts Tasmania deputy chairman Steve Noonan said the organisation was working with the government to introduce its mandatory minimum sentences for serious child sex offenders.

``We've got a situation where that man's sexually assaulted his grand-daughter and there's been an arbitrary decision applied to that sentence,'' he said.

``Well, mandatory sentencing or a standard non-parole period will take that away.''

Ms Goodwin would not comment on specific cases but said the council and the Justice Department were working on the policies.

Police Association of Tasmania president Pat Allen said the union was concerned about the lack of rehabilitation programs for long-term inmates.

``We would support a review of the current system,'' he said.

pbillings@examiner.com.au

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