Sunday, December 30, 2012

Child sex offender Dennis Ferguson dead - Sydney Morning Herald


One of Australia's most despised criminals, pedophile Dennis Ferguson, has been found dead in his Sydney flat.

Police and paramedics were called to a unit block in Surry Hills on Sunday afternoon and found the 64-year-old dead inside his unit.

"Initial inquiries suggest there are no suspicious circumstances," a police spokesman told AAP.

Ferguson was jailed for 15 years and nine months in 1988 for kidnapping and sexually molesting three children, aged 6, 7 and 8, in a Brisbane motel in 1987.

Child protection advocate Hetty Johnston, from Bravehearts, says no one will be shedding tears for him.

"His time has come and I think children are safer everywhere for it," she said.

"That's the truth and I really do doubt that anyone is going to be very sad about his passing, including myself."

Ferguson's release in January 2003 spawned a vigilante style movement that saw angry parents drive him out of his accommodation in Ipswich, Murgon, Miles, Bundaberg, Toowoomba and Logan City, south of Brisbane.

He relocated to NSW in 2009, with then Queensland Premier Anna Bligh saying she was relieved to be rid of the child abuser.

But his troubles continued despite the move.

In October this year, Ferguson was charged with contravening a child protection prohibition order.

He failed to inform NSW Police that he intended to seek or undertake voluntary work that would have put him in contact with children.

Police had issued him a court attendance notice for next week.

In 2009, when residents in the Sydney suburb of Ryde discovered the registered sex offender had been granted a five-year public housing lease there, anger erupted.

One resident left a replica coffin outside the unit after Ferguson publicly said he would only leave his new home in a pine box.

The NSW government quickly passed legislation allowing Housing NSW to terminate the public housing leases of registered child sex offenders. The locks on Ferguson's Ryde unit were changed and his lease was terminated.

Since then, he has been living at an undisclosed location, after agreeing to a set of terms with NSW police in July 2010 about his access to children.

The terms were agreed seven months after a Sydney court rejected a police application to ban Ferguson from areas frequented by children after he was spotted in the change rooms of an inner-city Sydney pool.

In a November 2009 interview with the ABC's Four Corners program, Ferguson said he was no longer a threat to the community.

He said people who were sexually attracted to children lost interest in them over time.

"Myself? Children don't bother me," Ferguson said.

"I'm no longer interested."

But he went on to say he'd consider chemical castration if it was deemed safe and effective.

In January 2010, Ferguson won court-ordered protection from the former neighbour who left the replica coffin at his front door.

Ferguson was granted a two-year apprehended violence order (AVO) against father-of-three Sean Killgallon.

Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said the Ferguson case generated palpable fear among residents of West Ipswich when the pedophile moved there after his release from jail.

"People became very fearful and it turned ugly," he told AAP.

"There is one thing that Australians just won't tolerate and that's pedophiles. I've got a little granddaughter now and the thought someone would violate her for their own sexual gratification brings out the worst in you."

Mr Pisasale said Ferguson failed to show remorse for his crimes and there would be no sorrow in Ipswich about his passing.

"Our job was to protect the community and that's what we did."

Mr Pisasale said much had changed in terms of the release of pedophiles into the community since the Ferguson case, but the issue would always be a very difficult one.

"He brought into focus that our society doesn't know how to deal, or have a place, for these people," he said.

"What they did was just place him in the community without any consultation or understanding of the community's fears. I hope governments have learned from this."

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