Seven families sue state of Victoria over parolee crime.

By Sarah Farnsworth

Relatives of seven Victorians who were murdered or sexually assaulted by convicted criminals on parole or on supervision orders have officially lodged legal proceedings against the State Government.

Spearheaded by Noelle Dickson, the mother of murder victim Sarah Cafferkey, the families are seeking compensation accusing the State of Victoria of negligence and breaching its duty of care.

Sarah Cafferkey, 22, was bashed and stabbed by Steven James Hunter at his Bacchus Marsh unit north-west of Melbourne in 2012 and dumped in a wheelie bin.

It was Hunter’s second murder and he had just finished a period of parole for other violent offences when he killed Ms Cafferkey.

The families of murder victims, Raechel Betts, Joanne Wicking, Evan Rudd and Douglas Philips, have now lodged official writs with the court, claiming the system failed them.

Writs allege state was ‘responsible’ for offenders

All writs lodged with the County Court argued the state was at all times responsible for the offenders, including assessing the suitability of the prisoner’s release, putting in place suitable conditions of parole, including proper monitoring and was responsible for protecting the community against offenders.

Raechel Betts, 27, was murdered in August, 2009, by serial killer John Leslie Coombes, 56, while he was on parole. It was his third murder.

John Leslie Coombes was on parole when he strangled and dismembered Ms Betts.

Joanne Wicking, 29, was killed in front of her four children by Sean Maraffko in 2010. He was on parole having been released from prison just 18 days earlier.

Evan Rudd, 29, was killed by serial offender Richard Stephen Devries during an argument over a car parking spot in Moe in 2011. Devries had 80 convictions dating back to 1991 and was on parole for assault at the time.


Douglas Phillips was killed by his parolee son Christopher Phillips at Frankston North.

Two families of victims of sex offenders who breached supervision orders under the Serious Sexual Offenders Act were joining the law suit.

At least one other family was also expected to join the fight for compensation.

Compassion for families involved

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said he had empathy and compassion for the families involved.

"What has occurred to those families and indeed to others is a tragedy and we send our best wishes to those families," the Premier said.

"I'm sure we have, all of us, just some inkling of the pain they have to live through every day.

"As [the matters are] before the courts though I wouldn't want to comment any further than that."

There have been numerous reports and reviews into the parole system's failings over the years.

A report by retired High Court judge Ian Callinan resulted in a raft of legislative changes regarding parole and supervision of offenders.

The failures of the system were again placed under the spotlight in the recent Harper Review following the brutal stabbing of 17-year-old Masa Vukotic by Sean Christian Price while he was on bail and on a 10-year serious sex offender supervision order.

The Andrews Government has vowed to implement stricter management of sex offenders including the creation of a new "public protection" agency.

This post originally appeared on ABC News


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