The pedophile who killed Sydney schoolgirl Samantha Knight more than 30 years ago will be released from jail within days after a judge rejected an application to keep him behind bars for another year.
Justice Richard Button on Tuesday instead imposed a five-year extended supervision order with stringent conditions on Michael Guider.
The now 68-year-old pleaded guilty in 2002 to the manslaughter of nine-year-old Samantha, who went missing after leaving her Bondi home for school on August 19, 1986. Her body has never been found.
His 17-year jail term has expired, but he was placed on an interim detention order which expires on Thursday.
The NSW Attorney-General had made a Supreme Court application for a one-year detention order.
When sentenced for Samantha’s death, Guider was already serving time for numerous sex offences against more than a dozen other children between 1980 and 1996.
The judge said the hearing was to assess the risk Guider posed in the future, rather than imposing punishment for his prior offending.
He found that a further period of incarceration would not serve any rehabilitative purpose.
While it could not be said definitively that Guider’s sexual interest in children had disappeared, the judge considered he had done all that could be done in terms of rehabilitation in a prison setting.
Three experts, highly experienced in psychology and psychiatry, had all agreed Guider’s risk could be reasonably managed under a stringent and lengthy system of supervision within the community, the judge said.
He had taken note of Guider’s good behaviour when he was on escorted day leave from jail.
The 56 conditions of the supervision order include electronic monitoring and providing a weekly schedule of his movements three days in advance.
He must not without prior approval attend any place used solely or mainly for the sale or display of sexually explicit material, or for providing sexual services or sexually explicit entertainment.
Guider also must not approach or have contact with anyone he knows or reasonably should know is under 18, other than incidental contact in a public place, unless he has written permission.
He is not allowed to change his name or use any other name without the approval of his supervisor, nor can he significantly change his appearance.
Federal Government Pushing to Pass New Legislation
Members of the federal government have voiced their outrage at what they see as penalties that are too lenient to pedophiles.
“It simply beggars belief that nearly a third of all child sex offenders who were sentenced last year were not required to spend a single day behind bars,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said on Sept. 3.
“And when jail terms were handed out, the average length of time that offenders spent in custody was just 18 months.”
The government tried to pass similar legislation in 2017, but it was knocked back after Labor baulked at the inflexible nature of the mandatory sanctions included in the bill. However, this time around, Labor appears open to reconsidering the bill.
“Every child must be kept safe,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said. “Labor strongly supports keeping children safe and holding these horrendous individuals to account.”
Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton wants to get the legislation through parliament as quickly as possible.
“It’s not a silver bullet, but it sends a clear message of deterrence,” he said. “We need to be realistic about the threat and we need to lock up those people that are doing the wrong thing.”
The legislation will be introduced to parliament on Sept. 11.
By Margaret Scheikowski and Daniel McCulloch