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Victims shocked by sex offender’s release

The mother of the victims of a high-risk sex offender was in shock last night after his release was made public without her family being informed.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, learnt of the impending release of Jonathan Jon Cumberbatch only when it appeared in online media.

She said: “If I would have been given this information prior to now, I would have been able to forewarn my children and prepare my family.

“I was not given that right. I'm broken by this still. I was disappointed by the slap he was given in court. He destroyed the three lives of my children. The fourth was my own, and I am left to pick up the pieces.”

Cumberbatch, 55, from Warwick, was convicted and jailed in 2010 for sexual exploitation of a young person while in a position of trust, as well as sexual assault.

He is due to be released from Westgate on February 21.

Kathy Simmons, the Attorney-General, applied her discretionary powers to notify the public yesterday that Cumberbatch had been deemed to be “of the highest risk to the community”.

His photograph and physical description are also being released to the public, in accordance with section 329H of the Criminal Code 1907, in which Senator Simmons applied the Protocol on the Disclosure of Information Identifying Sex Offenders.

The Minister of Legal Affairs said she had “carefully considered all relevant facts of the case, including assessments from corrections and the offender's psychological report”.

“The minister has concluded that this offender, whose crimes were committed against children, presents a risk of significant harm to the health or safety of the public, an affected group of people or an individual.

“This decision is made in consultation with the Commissioner of Police. Known victims have already been notified of Jonathan Jon Cumberbatch's release prior to public notification.”

However, the mother of three children victimised by Cumberbatch said she had been repeatedly in contact with corrections to obtain his release date, to no avail.

“Everyone has failed my family,” she said. “This is very, very disturbing and a new low for the judicial system.”

She said she was told that the Department of Child and Family Services had informed a social worker that a letter was waiting for her to collect from the Attorney-General's office.

“No one contacted me and made me aware of this,” she said. “The 12 years that he got was a slap. This is even worse.”

Publicly naming sex offenders for “certain offences” was among the Progressive Labour Party's election pledges.

It followed a storm of outrage when sex offender John Malcolm “Chalkie” White was released in November 2016 without the families of his victims being notified.

In July 2017, David Burt said there had been “concern inside of our communities that when people are released they are not informed”.

Mr Burt added: “It is important that their names are released so people can be informed and parents can be on guard.”

Yesterday, the Attorney-General said such decisions would be made on a case-by-case basis.

“I must carefully consider the needs of the wider community while being sensitive to protecting victims,” she said.

“In this case, the danger to the community warranted wider disclosure. The aim is to protect our children and provide a safer community for all.”

According to the statement, there was co-operation between agencies on the terms of the disclosure. It continued: “The Ministry of Education is sharing this information to relevant schools via principals. All entities who work with children should review this notice and exercise diligence and caution.

“In addition to this press release, an advertisement will appear in the media at the time of Jonathan Jon Cumberbatch's release.”

To read the public notification, click on the PDF under “Related Media”

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Public warned: Jonathan Cumberbatch (Photograph supplied)

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Published February 15, 2018 at 8:00 am (Updated February 15, 2018 at 3:22 pm)

Victims shocked by sex offender’s release

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