Grafton sex attack creates new laws

A STORY run by The Daily Examiner earlier this year may well have been the catalyst for the State Government to introduce a major law reform yesterday concerning child rape.

The Examiner article brought to light the fact that Maclean man, Ronald Dean King, had received a two-year suspended jail sentence after been found guilty of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl during a break and enter in South Grafton in 2007.

As a result of the story King's sentence was appealed by the State Government and he was handed a new sentence of seven years jail.

Yesterday the State Government introduced new legislation that will allow judges to sentence to life imprisonment any person that breaks into a home and has intercourse with a child under 10.

In announcing the proposed new legislation Attorney General John Hatzistergos said children had the right to feel safe in their own homes.

“Breaking into a property to commit a sex offence against a child is an abhorrent crime,” he said.

Before yesterday sexual intercourse with a child under 10 carried a jail sentence of up to 25 years.

The legislation builds on tough new sex crime laws passed through NSW Parliament in December and follows the Ronald King incident in Grafton when he assaulted a four-year-old girl as she slept at her grandmother's house.

“It is important we amend the law when crimes of this magnitude happen to ensure that the penalty is in proportion to what occurred.”

State Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell said the tougher new laws against paedophiles were a step in the right direction, but they still do not go far enough.

According to Mr Cansdell, the proposed new legislation still leaves judges with too much leeway.

“Maclean child attacker Ronald King was initially freed from jail by an out-of-touch, and fortunately now retired, judge,” he said.

“That is why we need a mandatory minimum sentence of at least 10 years, with the norm being life in prison.”

“The bottom line is that crimes against children, particularly those of a sexual nature, deserve the harshest possible punishment.”

“There is plenty of evidence to show paedophiles are rarely cured of their perversions, so the longer we lock them up, the safer our kids will be.”

The new legislation also includes a provision to criminalize attempts to commit domestic violence offences including attempts to stalk, intimidate and breach AVOs.

Mr Hatzistergos said this will ensure police will be able to prosecute individuals while they are in the act of preparing to commit one of these offences.

“Preparations and attempts to commit stalking are just as serious as the act itself and will still be considered a crime.”

The legislation will also expand the Sentencing Council from 13 to 15 members, adding a wider range of backgrounds and bringing more experience to the important task of monitoring the length of sentences for criminal offences.

“The Sentencing Council acts as an expert body which advises and informs government about appropriate penalties for crimes,” he said.

Mr Hatzistergos said one of the new positions will require a candidate with expertise in criminal law or sentencing. The second position requires a candidate with academic or research expertise in the law or criminology.



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