Questions after sex case ends

Tim Clarke and Warren HatelyBusselton Dunsborough Times
David Lindner.
Camera IconDavid Lindner. Credit: Supplied.

The jailing of two men this week for horrific child-sex offences in the Capes region has raised questions about the capacity of local police to monitor known offenders living in regional communities.

Yallingup man David Lindner was jailed for 11 years on Monday for horrific sex attacks on two 12-year-old boys which led to the discovery of a nationwide network of paedophiles.

Another man, Peter Wallace Hill, a former Geographe Bay Tourism Association and City of Busselton economic officer who ran a local driving school, was also jailed on Monday for four years.

The Busselton District Court was told Lindner invited Hill to join in the abuse, with the predators in contact as part of a national network that included A Current Affair reporter Ben McCormack.

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As reported by the Times last year, the father of one victim was outraged his son was exposed to the predator without Lindner being identified under a sex-offender monitoring regime managed in regional WA by local police.

“We’ll go to our graves disgusted that a known child-sex offender was seemingly left to his own devices within our community,” the father said.

“He groomed everyone — our family, his church, work colleagues, the local media and obviously whoever he had to report to within the police force.

“We are not blaming the local police as they are not allowed to know who they are. But we remain dumbfounded and outraged by a system that allowed this man the freedom to prowl our community and abuse our son.”

On Monday, Judge Laurie Levy also questioned how Lindner was allowed to return from Canada in 2012 seemingly without supervision, despite requirements by the Australian National Child Offender Register for him to make himself known to authorities.

“One can’t help but wonder whether, if you had been subject properly to the reporting conditions, whether you would have been enabled to commit these offences,” Judge Levy said.

WA Police and the State Government were struggling to explain how Lindner was allowed to live in the community without sufficient monitoring. WA Police media declined to answer questions about the capacity of local police to carry out monitoring, citing legislation pertaining to the identification of the abusers.

Lindner was required to let authorities know all his details, computer passwords and movements, including whether he was in regular contact with children.

The Times understands WA Police was made aware Lindner was here when he arrived in 2012, and there were no restrictions on regional police being given his details. It is also understood he had complied with many of his reporting requirements but did not tell them he was in regular contact with children.

Asked about the case, Police Minister Michelle Roberts and Commissioner Chris Dawson said they were limited in their answers by laws restricting wider publication of details about reportable sex offenders.

That was despite Lindner’s background — including his overseas conviction — being revealed in court as he was jailed for 11 years.

“The offences committed by this man are absolutely repugnant and my heart goes out to the victims and their family,” Mrs Roberts said. “As these questions relate to the Community Protection Offender Reporting Act, they need to be addressed to the WA Police force.”

A spokesman for Mr Dawson said: “WA Police cannot confirm or deny whether someone is a reportable offender as they are prohibited to by legislation, nor should this response be taken as confirmation one way or another.

“In relation to resourcing, the Sex Offender Management Squad is metropolitan-based.

“In regional WA, local police are responsible for these management duties in accordance with legislation and policy.”

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