Minster 'ignored advice'

By ANITA HULM and BOB ANTHONY

A SYDNEY newspaper has claimed that the NSW Corrective Services Minister, Tony Kelly, demanded convicted paedophile Otto Darcy-Searle be returned to Western Australia, despite advice that he was less likely to re-offend if he stayed with his family in Banora Point.

The Sydney Morning Herald said yesterday documents released to it under Freedom of Information laws showed that Mr Kelly's request was against advice given by his senior assistant commissioner, Catriona McComish.

There are now claims from Darcy-Searle's family that he has been the victim of a political bungle and cover-up.

The news of the documents brought claims by the NSW Shadow Minister for Justice Andrew Humpherson that Mr Kelly may have misled the public over the entire case.

Mr Humpherson said that at the time of the Darcy-Searle fiasco, Mr Kelly had said that his staff weren't aware of Darcy-Searle's record but the documents obtained by the newspaper showed that they were well aware of his convictions.

"It is now clear that the Minister and his department knew more then they first admitted," Mr Humpherson said.

Darcy-Searle was found guilty of more than 100 paedophilia offences and served five years of an 11-year sentence for the crimes.

They involved four members from soccer teams he coached while living in Perth and all offences happened between 1978 and 1982.

He was released on parole last July and sent to live with his sister.

A newspaper report identified Darcy-Searle as living in Banora Point and a media whirlwind followed with the government denying any knowledge of the seriousness of the charges against Darcy-Searle.

Two parole officers based at Murwillumbah were stood down after being accused of not providing the government with adequate information.

They have both since been re-instated.

In the Daily News August 18 edition, Mr Kelly announced Darcy-Searle was returning to Western Australia because he feared for the safety of his family following angry protests by Banora Point residents.

But the Sydney Morning Herald said yesterday that Darcy-Searle had stated in a letter that he was forced back to Western Australia.

The paper said he asked parole officers what would happen if he did not choose to go to Western Australia voluntarily and he was told he would be arrested and sent back.



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