Molest suspect bailed

By SAMANTHA TURNBULL

AN ALLEGED child sex offender has been released on bail into the Ocean Shores community until his court hearing on May 25.

The 21-year-old Ocean Shores man was arrested at his home on Thursday afternoon and taken to the Byron Bay Police Station where he was interviewed and charged with aggravated sexual assault.

He is accused of sexually assaulting a five-year-old boy in the male toilets of the Ocean Village Shopping Centre about 5pm on Tuesday.

After charging him, police released the man on bail until he appears in the Mullumbimby Local Court on May 25.

The news yesterday evoked a mixed response from Ocean Shores parents.

Samantha Kendrick, the mother of a two-year-old boy, said she was extremely concerned.

However, Colleen Ferguson, whose children have now grown up, said the police couldn't keep the alleged sex offender in custody.

"Generally you release people if they're of good character and there's a chance they're innocent," she said.

Yesterday Byron Bay duty officer Insp Owen King said he could not go into detail about the bail release.

However, he said there was a presumption all people were entitled to bail before they appeared in court.

He said it was not unusual and pointed to the Sydney case of Gordon Wood, who was this week released on bail after being charged with the 1995 murder of model Caroline Byrne.

Insp King said strict conditions had been applied to the Ocean Shores man's bail to potentially protect both himself and the public.

"Police will be seeing him regularly," Insp King said.



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