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Release imminent for convicted sex offender

Melvin Martin (File photograph)

A child sex offender is to be released from prison in less than a week, the legal affairs minister announced yesterday.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, who is also the Attorney-General, said Melvin Martin will be freed from Westgate prison on Sunday.

Charities welcomed the public notification last night and said it was “another step in the right direction” to better child protection.

A joint statement by the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Saving Children and Revealing Secrets said: “Again, we are encouraged that this offender’s profile has been issued as a general warning and hope that the preventive measures outlined are in place for this and other individuals who are proven threats to our children.”

Martin’s release date was announced after consultation with police under legislation designed to highlight sex offenders feared to “present a risk of significant harm”.

The 33-year-old, from Sandys, was jailed for sexual exploitation of a minor, making child pornography, accessing child pornography and unlawful carnal knowledge.

He was sentenced to 8½ years in November 2009, but his jail term was increased to 14 years by the Court of Appeal in 2010.

The CPC and Scars praised the legal affairs ministry for issuing the information to the public.

They said: “This is another step in the right direction towards better protecting our children.

“We hope that all youth-serving organisations and caregivers take note and we would like to remind the public that all forms of child pornography are both illegal and exploitive.”

Debi Ray-Rivers, founder and executive director of Scars, a charity dedicated to the prevention of child sexual abuse, added: “Scars is calling for every parent and or caregiver to become educated in prevention.

“This includes every youth-serving organisation, faith-based centre, schools, camps and clubs to be certified in prevention, require background checks, implement codes of conduct, including a social media policy, travel policy and transportation policy, and monitoring the employees’ and volunteers’ activity after hiring.”

Kelly Hunt, the CPC’s executive director, said: “The Coalition for the Protection of Children continues to advocate for the three-pronged approach for sex offenders which includes mandated, evidenced-based treatment as a provision of parole, ongoing supervision in the community on release and limitations surrounding access to children.”

The Women’s Resource Centre also supported the public announcement.

Elaine Butterfield, its executive director, said: “It has been a long struggle with many years of advocacy by helping services, with many attorneys-general, to get to this very necessary point where the public can rely on those who should be protecting them to take this bold stand.

“Although there is more to be done, we commend the Attorney-General for what is now a consistent action.

“We look forward to continuing to support the Attorney-General to create a community where women and their families are emotionally and physically healthy, safe, confident and able to realise their potential.”

The Government’s statement said that the minister had also decided to inform schools of Martin’s release. It explained the notice was in line with section 329H of the Criminal Code 1907, which provided Ms Simmons with the power “to disclose information in relation to sex offenders who are considered to present a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the public, an affected group of people, or an individual”.

The Government statement was accompanied by fact sheets designed to help parents and guardians who wanted to speak to their children about the risk of sex assaults. They were advised: “If child abuse is suspected, contact the Intake and Investigations team at the Department of Child and Family Services, Magnolia Place, 45 Victoria Street, Hamilton, or the Kidsline at 278-9111.

“Additionally, contact can be made with DCFS co-ordinator Lisa Talbot at 294-5882, or supervisor Maureen Trew at 294-5876.”

The announcement came a year after the release date for Jonathan Cumberbatch, then 55 and from Warwick, was publicised. Ms Simmons ruled that the convicted sex offender, sentenced in 2010 to 12 years’ imprisonment for crimes against children, was “of the highest risk to the community”.

The Progressive Labour Party promised before it was elected in 2017 to name sex offenders for “certain offences”.

The pledge came after public outrage when sex offender John “Chalkie” White was released in November 2016 without the families of his victims being notified.

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