Murderers leave prison, if they leave, with their names plastered across newspaper front pages more often than not. Thieves are named too. So are arsonists and embezzlers. But what of pedophiles?
Serious sex offenders are able to apply to the courts to have their names and details suppressed, never to see the light of day, ostensibly because the braying public would hound their every move and, you know, judge them.
Other high profile criminal cases occasionally have details suppressed, too, but it happens most often with pedophiles and serious sex offenders. Those cases are more emotive.
A wealthy Sydney businessman had his details suppressed so he could ‘minimise any ongoing damage to his reputation’. For the record, he raped his 11-year-old step daughter. His name was kept secret yet the explicit details of his crime were laid bare. The victim later said:
“His identify was protected, yet these intimate details about me are not protected at all. How can, on the one hand, they protect this man’s identity, and on the other hand, deny the victim’s right and the rights of society to know he is a convicted pedophile?”
It was only after broadcaster Derryn Hinch named the man that a court lifted the suppression order. That was last week. That man is Peter Versi. A property developer and pedophile sentenced last month to 18 months’ jail for the rape which took place in the 1980s.
He maintains his innocence.
It’s important to note suppression orders are made by judges as a balancing act. The competing interests of open and transparent justice (justice should not only be done, it is said, but should be seen to be done) and of the individual’s right to privacy, fair trial and the resumption of a relatively normal life after serving one’s debt to society.