WESTERN Australia’s Attorney-General has refused to intervene after a dangerous sex offender was granted release from prison and permitted to visit sex workers in a bid to reduce his risk of reoffending.
Edward William Latimer, 61, had been imprisoned indefinitely until a WA Supreme Court judge ruled on Tuesday he could be freed under a 10-year supervision order with 52 conditions, including no alcohol or porn, and no access to sex workers without approval.
Justice Anthony Derrick had determined Latimer was a “serious danger to the community” but said the risk could be managed in the community in his judgment.
“Access to sex workers will not of itself resolve the issue of the respondent’s ability to manage his sexual urges … (but) the option for the respondent to engage in regular, albeit infrequent, sexual contact should serve as an additional protective factor,” he said.
Under the terms of his release, Latimer cannot be left alone with women and the sex worker issue came up after he asked whether he could approach sex workers.
“My understanding of sex work is that for the exchange of money, the female will willingly consent,” Attorney-General John Quigley said.
“I realise there’s a moral question involved here but we’re not standing here as moral judges.
“If he approaches a sex worker with a community supervision officer, while this is a bit unseemly for us all, it’s not involving an offence and it’s not putting any human being at risk.”
Opposition spokesman Nick Goiran said he was deeply concerned that Latimer, who had a history of sexual assaults and wilful exposure, had been approved for release from prison.
Mr Goiran said it was most disturbing that the judge found Latimer only had “a rudimentary understanding of the concept of consent” and has called on Mr Quigley to urgently intervene.
“It beggars belief that a judge can agree for a dangerous sex offender to access prostitution as a means to reduce the risk to the community,” he said.
“This decision is a kick in the guts to victims of sexual abuse. It sends all the wrong messages.”
Mr Quigley said he would not “quibble” with the judge’s decision.
“I don’t see anything in the judge’s decision which is appellable,” he said.
“He’s going to be closely supervised so that if he looks like reoffending … I’m confident that if he looks like reoffending, they’re going to collar him and put him back in, same as they did before.”
Mr Quigley said Latimer had not committed a sexual crime since 2003 and had been held beyond his sentence, which expired in 2006.
“The last time Latimer committed an offence was 16 years ago,” he said.
“The dangerous sex offenders legislation is legislation designed to closely manage sex offenders after their sentences expire.
“We can’t keep people in prison forever.
“The cost of monitoring in 10 years, it is infinitesimal compared to $325 a day to keep him in prison.”
Labor introduced the dangerous sex offender legislation in 2006 and Latimer became the first person indefinitely jailed.
Only one offender has committed a serious crime while on a supervision order.
The Office of the WA Director of Public Prosecutions told AAP there were no grounds for appeal.