THE parole system in the Australian state of Victoria has been found to be too lenient in its release of sexual offenders, according to a review partly influenced by Jill Meagher’s murder.
Rapist and murderer Adrian Ernes Bayley was jailed earlier this year in Melbourne for a minimum of 35 years. He had been out on parole when he raped and strangled the 29-year-old ABC radio employee, who was from Louth.
The review of the Adult Parole Board (APB), which was carried out by former High Court judge Ian Callinan, thoroughly investigated the handling of the “notorious case of Bayley”.
Mr Callinan described the file as “ill-organised” and “repetitive” and has criticised as a “deficiency” the board’s decision not to disclose the members who had originally granted Bayley’s parole.
“There was no single document containing a straight complete chronology of his criminal history or analytical material relating to the files,” Mr Callinan wrote in a report which was submitted to the State government today.
The report recommends a series of changes to the board’s parole process, including a new electronic case management system and the communication with victims of the offender two weeks prior to their release.
Victoria’s premier Denis Napthine, who recently met with Jill Meagher’s widow, Tom to discuss the review, found the APB leaned too far in the favour of the sexual convicts.
“Community safety must be the highest priority of the Adult Parole Board,” he said. “This report draws line in the sand. The culture of parole in Victoria must and will change.
The APB responded to the scathing report, saying it agrees that the board has been under resourced and has endorsed the renewed emphasis on public safety.
The results of the review follow the very recent allegations of a former girlfriend of Bayley who has said she was raped by him in 2011.
Loretta O'Neill said she was raped by Bayley at the start of a six-month relationship, a little more than a year before Jill Meagher was killed in Melbourne.
The 35-year-old mother of two young children said she had no clue at the time of Bayley's sexually violent criminal past. He was on parole for raping five women when she dated him.
"If I had gone to the cops and he was arrested, he would have been locked up and that poor woman could have been saved. S**t, I should've . . ." Ms O'Neill told Australian magazine 'Cleo'.
Ms O'Neill offered a simple and heartfelt message to the family of Ms Meagher. "I am so very, very, sorry."