We need to give up on the idea sex offenders can be rehabilitated.

Daniel Morcombe’s killer.


Do we agree that sexuality is something you’re born with? If you’re straight, you’re straight. If you’re gay, you’re gay. If you’re a violent paedophile, you’re a violent paedophile and you have no place in society.

When a loopy, extreme right-wing fundamentalist organisation talks about how they can ‘cure’ someone of homosexuality, we slam them. We laugh at their ill-informed foolishness and use our Facebook pages to share our outrage.

So surely it follows that if you have an ingrained sexual attraction to children, and those desires are heightened by the use of violence and fear, then the idea that working with a therapist, however well-qualified, will extinguish them is equally ridiculous. Those desires may be quashed for a bit, but they’ll always be there. It’s like your fingerprint – you can wear gloves, but it’ll always be there.

It’s illogical to think a person’s sexuality can be changed by hearing the right words at the right time.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m a big fan of therapy for all sorts of things. If you’re addicted to gambling or cheese or Facebook, then of course, talking to someone qualified can be an enormous help. Psychiatrists and psychologists and counsellors are clever people but they can’t change your hard-wiring.

But, frankly, if you play the pokies on the way to school pickup, or you check your Facebook newsfeed at 2am, I’m not that bothered, because you’re not a danger to children. Not like the man whose unflinching face is staring at us from every page and every screen today.

Daniel Morcombe’s murder and the revelations about his killer’s brutal past has more than rattled me.

It’s made me think:

Why was this person not in prison? What does it take to keep someone locked up? Why even try to rehabilitate that kind of person?  It’s a waste of time, and worse, it resulted in the waste of a beautiful life.


The awfulness of it all makes it hard to think straight. At every turn, there’s a bad outcome.

Naturally, people are calling for longer sentences for sex offenders, but Justice Atkinson remarked:

People who call for longer or harsher sentences against sex offenders need to consider the evidence in this case that Mr Cowan killed Daniel Morcombe to avoid detection and if the sentence for a sex offence is the same as a sentence for murder, my concern is that that would act as a perverse incentive to offenders to kill victims.

Killing a victim is worse than sexual offending against a victim and this case is an example of that. I just want to ensure that I have said that, so that those who call for greater sentencing of sex offenders have to be aware that this is not an area where there are simple solutions. That is not to suggest the courts should or do go easy on sex offenders whose behaviour is of course, entirely abhorrent.

It’s a good point, well made. If the sentence is the same for a murderer and a molester, then why would a victim ever be released alive?

Daniel Morcombe was thirteen when he was killed.

I have nothing but respect for the way this judge has done her job, but I wonder (I can’t know) if in the frenzy of attack, a monster like Cowan weighs up the comparative sentence he’d receive if he let the boy go.

If he’s driven by instinct, there’s not a lot of rational decision making going on. The idea of a lesser sentence wasn’t going to make him let Daniel go.

Frankly, I’m not that interested in what makes a man like that tick. I’m not interested in the physiology or the psychology. I don’t care if he was bullied at school.

I want our kids to be safe. I don’t want them to be frightened of catching the bus and going to the shops. I want an acknowledgement that rehabilitation for this type of criminal is a waste of time.

For the record, I’m not a vigilante kinda girl. I’m not praying that Daniel’s killer will be brutalised in prison. I don’t think the death penalty should be brought back. I’m not into revenge.

I don’t know what the answer is. All I know, for sure, is that what’s happening now isn’t working. If it was, Daniel Morcombe would be just another 20-something planning his weekend. We’d never have heard of his father, and his mum’s eyes would look like they smiled more than they cried.

I never thought I’d write this, but maybe the solution IS chemical castration? If paedophiles themselves say they “can’t help it”, then maybe that’s the help they need. And it’s the protection our children deserve.