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MPs criticise AG over paedophile’s release

Released last month: convicted paedophile and former police officer John Malcolm White is led away from Supreme Court after sentencing in 2004. (File photograph)

Two MPs have questioned why the public was not notified about the release from prison of a former policeman who lured young boys to his home to rape them.

Mark Pettingill and Zane DeSilva, chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the joint parliamentary select committee on safeguarding children, claimed Attorney-General Trevor Moniz should have issued a notice when John Malcolm “Chalkie” White left jail.

White is understood to have been released from Westgate on October 31 after serving 12 years of a 25-year sentence for crimes including buggery, attempted buggery and sexual exploitation in Smiths and St George’s between 1996 and 2001.

Opposition MP Mr DeSilva chastised Mr Moniz for staying quiet about White’s release, querying why the AG didn’t issue a notice and photograph of the convicted paedophile.

“This man has been locked up for a most horrific offence,” he said. “The AG has the power to publicise that he is out and the power to put a picture of him in the public domain.

“Why is he not dealing with this? People have a right to know where he is.”

Mr DeSilva said he understood that White had not taken part in any rehabilitation or treatment while locked up.

“What should worry all of us, [is] if this man could end up committing further crimes. For this reason, I think the AG needs to get off his hands and do something. It’s children that we worry about.”

Government backbencher and former Attorney-General Mr Pettingill cited section 329H of the Criminal Code, which allows the Minister, after consultation with the Commissioner of Police, to issue a notice to the public or specific groups or individuals, if he believes there is a need to protect them.

“This is a matter of public protection and interest and the law is in place to deal with the issue,” he said. “There is no excuse for delay and it is nothing short of dangerous to prevaricate on an issue like this.”

It is understood that Jeff Baron, the Minister of National Security and a former policeman, alerted the One Bermuda Alliance’s parliamentary team to White’s release at the end of last week.

Mr Baron became aware by chance of the situation only after White had left jail and immediately flagged it up to his colleagues because of the very serious nature of the convict’s crimes, which involved three boys, the youngest of whom was ten when he was raped.

Mr Baron declined to comment on the specific case yesterday but said: “We need to achieve a balance between shielding our vulnerable population from sex offenders, recognised as such by our courts, and assisting offenders with getting critical help to address a very serious illness they have.

“My priority is with the vulnerable persons, with child victims. No person deserves to become a victim of a sex crime and no person or society deserves to feel victimised by persons who have yet to confront or who have failed to manage such significant mental health issues.”

Mr Moniz did not respond to an e-mailed request for comment yesterday.

Asked whether White was considered a danger to the public and whether he was being monitored, prisons commissioner Edward Lamb said: “Other than to say that Mr White served his time in accordance with the law, it would be highly imprudent of me to offer specific comments on a former inmate.”

A Bermuda Police Service spokesman said: “Matters concerning the public notification of registered sex offenders are the remit of the Minister of Justice, who is empowered under the Criminal Code Act 1907 to make disclosures under specific circumstances.

“The BPS can confirm that it works closely with the Attorney-General, the Department of Corrections and others to monitor offenders, ensuring their compliance with the requirements to be registered and, more generally, to ensure that the list of sex offenders is properly maintained.”

Bermuda does not have a publicly available sex offenders register, though the joint select committee is investigating whether one should be created.