Meet Dan Shearin. He lives on the Gold Coast. He is 41 and works as a cruise-ship entertainer.
Shearin has also either pleaded guilty or been found guilty of stalking, harassing and abusing women for years.
One of those women, Breeana Robinson, died in a fall from his building after she received 1400 text messages from him in one month, including messages telling Breeana that she was a “retarded slut”, a “complete fucking moron” and a “dumb fucking cunt”. He told her she was “the worst excuse for a [girlfriend]” and he could find “better sex elsewhere”. Breeana was just 21 when she fell to her death from Shearin’s balcony.
The courts are aware of Dan Shearin’s behaviour. They have known for some time.
They know about the domestic violence order he breached in 1997.
The courts are aware that in 2004, he was found guilty of unlawfully publishing defamatory material for distributing pictures of an ex-partner having sex.
The courts know about his behaviour towards Breeana Robinson because Shearin pleaded guilty to sending abusive texts to her before her death.
Despite all of this evidence before the courts, Shearin is still free to abuse women.
Seven months after Breeana’s death, Dan began sending abusive texts to a woman whom he had met on an internet dating website. He pleaded guilty to sending texts to that woman calling her a “slut”, a “bitch” and a “fucking piece of shit” after she tried to break off their casual relationship.
Yesterday, Dan Shearin was sentenced for abusing that woman.
Despite appearing before the courts at least three times for similar crimes, Dan Shearin walked free from court yesterday, sentenced to one year of probation. Magistrate Jacqui Payne said Shearin had “descended into an abusive-type [way] of relating to women”, but refused to give him a custodial sentence. Shearin told the Courier Mail that he felt “very thankful” for his sentence.
Shearin has every reason to be thankful for this decision.
A magistrate had previously jailed Shearin for his stalking behaviour. The magistrate who sentenced Shearin for his abuse of Breeana Robinson said he should come with “a warning label”.
“The greatest coward can hurt the most ferociously,” Magistrate John Costanzo said. “I can’t think of a way for a man to be more of a pig towards a woman.” Shearin was sentenced to six months in prison, four of which were suspended.
But Shearin only spent 11 days in jail before his sentence was overturned for being excessive. Instead, he was given a $1000 fine and a 15-month good behaviour bond (which he appears to have breached within seven months).
The District Court judge who released Shearin from prison said that he shouldn’t be jailed “just for having a bad personality”.
But here’s the thing: Shearin doesn’t just have a “bad personality”.
He’s a serial abuser of women. There are pages and pages of sworn evidence of that.
We can’t keep fooling ourselves that violence against women in our community is a mystery. And we can’t keep fooling ourselves that violence is just physical.
We don’t get to keep asking ourselves why women are continually exposed to violence when men like Shearin keep offending and our courts do nothing.
We can’t hope to stop the deaths, the violence and the fear, while we write off abusive behaviour as a “bad personality”.
Men like Dan Shearin don’t need a warning label. They need more.