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Convicted Paedophile Loses Appeal to Communicate with Children


In what I consider to be one of the clearest examples of a parent’s lack of insight I have come across in a long time, a convicted paedophile has lost his appeal against Orders excluding him from having parental responsibility for his children and prohibiting all communication between him and the children.

At the time the Orders were made, the parties’ children were aged 15 years old (a daughter) and 11 years old (twin boys). The daughter had not seen her father for seven years and the twins had not seen their father for five years. The father was serving an 18 year prison sentence, with a non-parole period of 13 years, for a number of sexual offences. He was not to be released prior to May 2025. The offences were described as ‘the most vile and serious kind’ and included him filming himself engaging in abhorrent activity and taking sexual photographs of his daughter and his step-children (not the children of these proceedings).

Cronin J had earlier made interim orders permitting communication through the exchange of letters, gifts and the like at a time when the father ‘professed his innocence’. Some nine weeks later, the father pleaded guilty to all charges laid against him. On 7 February 2013, Cronin J discharged his earlier orders and made orders the effect of which was to restrain the father from contacting the children

.

In a classic example of a party wanting to keep any relationship ongoing, even if it is a litigious relationship, in June 2014, the father commenced new proceedings. Final Orders were made on 21 July 2015 excluding the father from having parental responsibility and prohibiting all communication between him and the children. The father appealed those orders asserting that the trial judge erred in failing to obtain the children’s views and also asserting it was not open to His Honour on the evidence to find that the father posed an unacceptable risk of psychological harm to the children. The Full Court found that the appeal was ‘entirely without merit’.

Examples throughout the judgment of the father’s lack of insight included the following:

  • The father had viewed his incarceration as a positive feature in that unlike other cases, the Court did not need to be concerned that the children’s lives would be adversely disrupted as they would continue to live with their mother, continue to attend their school and see their friends. Given that he had not abused the children from this relationship, the implication was that in some way his conduct involving his other children should be quarantined from any consideration.
  • The father’s desire to ignore his criminal conduct was seen manifested in his case being redolent of the benefit for him in having a relationship with the children, but was silent on the benefits for the children having a relationship with him.
  • The father’s commentary in relation to sexually abusing his then two-year old when asked to consider the child’s emotional response to the event was that “..it was a one off event…I am hoping she was so young she will have no recollection”.
  • The 15 year old daughter knew her father was incarcerated but did not know why. The twin boys did not know that their father was in gaol. The father considered it important that the children be told of his situation but he was not able to consider the impact on the children or that they might experience severe emotional distress or pshychological harm or damage by being told.
  • The father considered it imperative that the children be interviewed and their views be obtained, but he acknowledged that if the children’s views did not align with his beliefs, he would still seek further opportunities for contact.

The Full Court summed up the father as follows:- “The father’s submissions themselves underscore the very point made by the family consultant and His Honour: his narcissism and lack of insight result in his considering the issue through the prism of his own needs and blind him to the needs of the children and the potential impact upon them.”

Now THAT is justice!!!

Should you need to consult a family lawyer regarding parenting matters, do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced family law team.

Image Credit – Sakhorn Saengtongsamarnsin © 123RF.com

Written by Michelle McDermott on June 30, 2017

Michelle prefers a pragmatic approach to resolving matters and pays particular attention to ensuring that her clients not only feel supported in the process but also that they understand, and are involved in, the decision making throughout. If, however, Court proceedings are required, Michelle has the skills and strategies to litigate cases efficiently. View Michelle’s profile


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Contact Armstrong Legal:
Sydney: (02) 9261 4555
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