17th January, 2018 | Keith Moor | Herald Sun
AN Irish paedophile priest has been secretly saved from deportation despite a bid by former Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to kick the child rapist out of Australia.
Administrative Appeals Tribunal deputy president Janine Stevenson recently overturned Mr Dutton’s decision to scrap the Catholic priest’s Australian citizenship.
She also ordered that the priest’s identity be suppressed and that other elements of the controversial case be kept secret.
That suppression order prevents the Herald Sun from being able to name the perverted priest.
The AAT this week removed details of the case from the publicly accessible Australian Legal Information Institute website.
Mr Dutton, who is now Home Affairs Minister, cancelled the priest’s citizenship in 2016 after he was found guilty of a string of sexual offences committed against three young girls over decades.
The paedophile, 83, was recently released from jail in New South Wales after serving just four years of an eight-year sentence.
He then appealed to the AAT in the hope it would allow him to stay in the country.
Justice Stevenson ruled on December 14 last year to set aside Mr Dutton’s decision to cancel the paedophile’s Australian citizenship.
Mr Dutton this week confirmed to the Herald Sun that he will use the Federal Court to appeal against the AAT’s decision.
He said because the AAT proceedings in the matter, including the identity of the applicant, were subject to a confidentiality order he couldn’t identify the person involved or make any other substantive comment on the case.
One of the priest’s victims, Kellie Roche, was this week horrified to be told by the Herald Sun that the AAT had foiled Mr Dutton’s bid to cancel her attacker’s Australian citizenship.
“Absolutely he will offend against children again as paedophiles don’t grow out of being paedophiles,” Ms Roche said.
“I am very disappointed and angry that the AAT has chosen to side with a paedophile priest rather than Mr Dutton, it is a slap in the face to we victims.
“I am also angry the AAT has done this in secret.
“The victims should have been contacted by the AAT to alert us to the appeal so we could give evidence about the appalling things he did to us.
“Given the chance, I would have told the AAT I agree with the minister that he should be kicked out of Australia — but the AAT didn’t have the decency to give me that chance.”
The priest was convicted in 2013 of raping a teenage girl and committing several serious sexual offences against two other girls aged 16 and under between 1962 and the late 1980s.
Most of the sex attacks were committed on church grounds against girls whose families the priest had befriended.
The Herald Sun yesterday submitted the following questions to the AAT:
— Why was the priest’s name suppressed by the AAT when he has already been found guilty and was named throughout the court case?
— The media was also able to name him on his release in December last year because the criminal court did not suppress his name or details of his crimes. Why did the AAT suppress his name and details of his case when the criminal court didn’t?
— Was the AAT suppression order of December 6, 2017, distributed to the media?
— If not, why not?
— If so, how and to which media outlets?
— Who decided to delete the case from the Australian Legal Information Institute website yesterday (January 16)?
- What time was it deleted?
— Why was it deleted?
— Will it be going back on the Australian Legal Information Institute website?
— If not, why not?
— If so, will any changes be made to it and, if so, what changes will be made?
— I have spoken to one of the priest’s victims and she is horrified and angry that the AAT didn’t alert her to the appeal as it meant she couldn’t appear and argue for him to be stripped of his citizenship. Why didn’t the AAT notify the three victims?
This was the AAT’s response:
The confidentiality order to suppress the applicant’s identity was made by the presiding member, Justice Stevenson.
After the decision was published, questions were raised about whether there were additional confidentiality issues to be addressed to protect the identities of the victims.
In consultation with Justice Stevenson and Division Head Deputy President McCabe, the published decision was taken down from AustLII in anticipation of a further directions hearing.
The request to remove the decision was sent to AustLII on Tuesday 16 January 2018 at 4.25pm.
A directions hearing has now been scheduled with the parties on Monday, 22 January 2018 to deal with confidentiality issues related to this decision. Following the directions hearing, Justice Stevenson will determine if the decision is to be republished on AustLII.
Subject to the outcome of the directions hearing, the AAT will inform you of the status of the current order.
Orders made by the AAT, which are not subject to confidentiality restrictions, are available by searching the AAT file or made available on request.
In the AAT’s General Division, the primary responsibility is with the parties to put forward the evidence and submissions that will be considered in the review by the Tribunal.
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