Jim Cusack: Over 100 high-risk rapists free to roam Irish streets
The rape and murder of Jill Meagher underlines the risk here, just as in Australia, caused by lenient treatment by courts.
At any given time, there are between 120 and 130 "very high-risk" convicted rapists who have served their prison sentences and are free to roam the streets in this country. There are 1,250 men – and a few women – on the garda sex offenders' register and most are categorised as low or medium risk, but 10 per cent need as near constant surveillance as gardai can provide.
Australian police operate a similar system but, just as here, their courts rarely sentence serial rapists to terms of imprisonment lengthy enough to ensure they are unable ever again to be a threat to women. Adrian Bayley had 21 rape convictions dating from 1991. He carried out his first rape at the age of 19, one victim was a 16-year-old family friend and another a 16-year-old hitchhiker. He served less than two years in jail for these two rapes. He was again arrested in September 2000 for what a judge described as a "horrendous wave" of abduction and rape of five prostitutes in Melbourne. Bailey received an eight-year sentence in 2002 and was released on parole in 2010 despite his record.
Gardai are currently watching men who pose a similar potential level of threat to women here. One man at large in Dublin, though he has also lived in the west of Ireland, was arrested last year after two prostitutes reported to gardai that he had raped them and subjected them to violent, humiliating ordeals. Both needed hospital treatment. At the time he was arrested, he was driving a van which sources described as a mobile torture chamber. In his mid-forties, he has convictions for rape and sexual assault dating from the Nineties. He remains at large because, it is believed, he made contact with the two foreign women and threatened them into withdrawing their complaints. He is described in internal garda alerts as "extremely" dangerous.