Monday, November 03, 2008

Australia: "Soft" female judge lets child rapist walk free

She should be removed from the bench and put on administrative duties only

Cairns judge Sarah Bradley is again under scrutiny after a teenage boy with a previous conviction for rape walked free from court despite pleading guilty to sexually assaulting three sisters. Attorney-General Kerry Shine yesterday requested a copy of the sentencing remarks, the first stage in what could be an appeal following local outrage over the case.

The controversial judge came under fire last year for giving lenient sentences to a group of men and boys who raped a girl at Aurukun, in far north Queensland, but was later cleared of judicial misconduct. Mr Shine successfully appealed the non-custodial sentences given to the nine males. Chief Justice Paul de Jersey said Judge Bradley made several errors in that case, which led to the imposition of manifestly inadequate sentences.

Judge Bradley again hit the headlines this week when she reportedly sentenced the teen rapist to two years' probation and 408 days in detention. Local media reported Judge Bradley said the boy should not be required to spend any more time in jail because he had already served 204 days, angering the victims' family who said the sentence was too short.

Cairns District Court heard the boy had repeatedly sexually assaulted three foster sisters aged 14, 16 and 17. The boy was 14 at the time and living in foster care. He pleaded guilty to 14 counts of indecent treatment.

Judge Bradley could not be contacted for comment yesterday, while Attorney-General Shine also did not want to comment before seeing the sentencing remarks. "The Attorney-General has requested the sentencing remarks to determine whether there are grounds for an appeal," his spokesman said.

But the Department of Child Safety also came under fire over the case yesterday, with the Opposition demanding to know why the boy was placed in the foster home when he had a conviction for raping a toddler. "Placing a youth who had already raped a child back into foster care with young girls was the last thing that should have occurred," Liberal National MP Jann Stuckey said. "This Government has again failed children in care."

Child Safety Minister Margaret Keech said she was "distressed" by the incident but was unable to comment because of pending legal matters. "It is a terrible thing to occur in a family," she said. Mrs Keech indicated an investigation would be conducted.

Source. (Via Australian Politics)

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