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Call for longer jail terms for sex offenders

Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader (File photograph)

Campaigners for longer jail sentences for sex offenders are to meet the Attorney-General, it was revealed yesterday.

David Burt, the Premier, told the House of Assembly that Juanae Crockwell, who organised a protest outside Parliament on March 1 to demand longer sentences for those convicted of sex crimes, had met Kathy-Lynn Simmons this week.

He was speaking after Craig Cannonier, the Opposition leader, raised the subject at Premier’s question time.

Mr Cannonier also pressed Mr Burt on why children linked to an investigation of abuse at the Department of Child and Family Services had not been interviewed.

Mr Burt said the case was being dealt with as a disciplinary matter in the public service and it was not appropriate to discuss it in Parliament.

But the Premier agreed to let Mr Cannonier know if other organisations had questioned young people about the complaint.

The complaints surfaced last year after allegations of mistreatment by department staff.

Scott Pearman, the Shadow Attorney-General, asked if Mr Burt would back the appointment of an independent lawyer or judge to look into the matter.

The Premier said he would take it under advisement, but was not prepared to make a commitment on the floor of the House.

Mr Cannonier told The Royal Gazette that the public demonstration showed increased concern over the way the judicial system dealt with paedophiles.

He highlighted the sentencing of David Minors, who was jailed for five years last month for sex offences against an underage boy.

Puisne Judge Carlisle Greaves branded Minors “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and Mr Cannonier said there were “other monsters out there” who exploited positions of trust.

Mr Cannonier added: “The main concern is that our laws are not strong or retributive enough.”

He said: “We now have kids within Child and Family Services being abused, and we still have not highlighted the fact that they have not been interviewed.”

Mr Cannonier said it was the Premier’s responsibility to “pressure the departments involved to move swiftly on this matter”.

Premier’s question time, which began in July 2018, allows half an hour for MPs from both sides of the House to quiz the Government leader.

It is held on the second Friday of every month.

Mr Cannonier also questioned proposed reforms to the municipalities and said the concerns of St George’s residents were “starkly different” to those in Hamilton.

Mr Burt said that “although there are two corporations, there is one Municipalities Act”.

He insisted the corporations were not being dissolved, but changes would mean “items which need to be done in the national interest” could be tackled in a more efficient way.