FOUR MONTHS AGO OVENS VAL­LEY STATE MP TIM McCURDY (right) CALLED FOR TOUGHER BAIL AND PA­ROLE LAWS DUR­ING A VISIT BY OP­PO­SI­TION LEADER MATTHEW GUY (left). HE RE­PEATED THE CALL IN PAR­LIA­MENT LAST WEEK.

“It should be a pol­icy of ‘one strike and you’re out’ - if you breach bail con­di­tions, then you should no longer have the op­por­tu­nity for bail.”

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SAMAN­THA DICK sdick@ne­me­dia.com.au

VI­O­LENT crimes in the North East have demon­strated the need for tougher pa­role laws, ac­cord­ing to Tim McCurdy (MLA, Ovens Val­ley), who de­bated the Se­ri­ous Sex Of­fend­ers leg­is­la­tion in State Par­lia­ment last week.

“Cer­tainly, changes need to be made,” Mr McCurdy told the Wan­garatta Chron­i­cle.

“With of­fend­ers such as Bowe Mad­di­gan and Michael Car­da­mone, I don’t think you can get bet­ter ex­am­ples than what we’ve seen in the North East.”

Mil­dura man, Bowe Mad­di­gan, 30, had been re­leased from prison just three weeks be­fore he sex­u­ally as­saulted and mur­dered Wan­garatta school girl, Zoe But­tigieg, aged 11, in her Inch­bold Street home in Oc­to­ber 2015.

Mad­di­gan had been serv­ing a sen­tence for breach­ing pa­role and had prior con­vic­tions for vi­o­lence be­fore mur­der­ing Zoe, for which he was sen­tenced to life in prison with a non-pa­role pe­riod of 28 years in De­cem­ber last year.

Michael Car­da­mone, 50, was on pa­role for rap­ing a 15-year-old girl in Myrtle­ford in 2005 when he tor­tured and mur­dered his Whorouly next-door neigh­bour, Karen Chet­cuti, in Jan­uary last year.

Car­da­mone was sen­tenced last month to life in prison with­out pa­role for mur­der­ing Ms Chet­cuti and has since ap­pealed his sen­tence.

Mr McCurdy said the State Gov­ern­ment’s in­tro­duc­tion of a Post Sen­tence Au­thor­ity to keep watch over se­ri­ous sex and vi­o­lent of­fend­ers upon re­lease was a step in the right di­rec­tion.

How­ever, he said “we’ve got a long way to go to send those mes­sages”.

“This gov­ern­ment has been late to the party in terms of law and or­der,” he said.

“Bail should be a priv­i­lege, not a right.”

Mr McCurdy ar­gued there needed to be changes “around pre­sump­tion of re­mand rather than pa­role”.

“We’ve seen of­fend­ers on bail for their sec­ond, third and fourth bail breach,” he said.

“It should be a pol­icy of ‘one strike and you’re out’ - if you breach bail con­di­tions, then you should no longer have the op­por­tu­nity for bail.”

Mr McCurdy said a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­prised of around 10 Wan­garatta lo­cals re­cently held its first meet­ing, where mem­bers made plans to re­search the short­com­ings of Vic­to­ria’s jus­tice sys­tem.

The steer­ing com­mit­tee was borne out of a pub­lic law and or­der fo­rum hosted by Mr McCurdy, which fea­tured shadow min­is­ters John Pe­sutto and Ed­ward O’Dono­hue, as well as lo­cal anti-vi­o­lence cam­paigner Ta­nia Max­well, of #ENOUGHISENOUGH.

Ms Max­well said she was scep­ti­cal about the cre­ation of a Post Sen­tence Au­thor­ity, but con­ceded she needed more de­tails in or­der to make an in­formed de­ci­sion about its ben­e­fits.

“Trans­parency is vi­tal in or­der for peo­ple to re­gain and re­store faith in our jus­tice sys­tem,” Ms Max­well said.

“Clearly the cur­rent mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem was not keep­ing com­mu­ni­ties safe, and re­quired se­ri­ous up­grad­ing, how­ever, I am not con­vinced that this is noth­ing more than ‘lip ser­vice’ to ap­pease the com­mu­nity at this point in time.”

PHOTO: Emma Hil­lier

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