Outrage over sex predator’s $900 fine
A disgraced Catholic priest and child-sex offender on home detention for abusing two boys should have been returned to prison after police found he was communicating with a 14-year-old girl online, a court has heard.
Charles Barnett was given a $900 fine and allowed to live in the community, a punishment that according to the Director of Public Prosecution, "strikes at the very heart" of laws designed to protect children".
The DPP has asked the Supreme Court to overturn the "manifestly inadequate" punishment and return the notorious paedophile to jail.
Barnett, 74, was only months into a 28-month home detention sentence for abusing two young boys when he was found to breaching his home-detention and sex-offender conditions.
When a compliance officer attended Barnett's home in July 2018, he saw a young girl's face on a computer screen and discovered she was living in Indonesia and had been learning English from the sex predator.
Barnett had not informed police about the interaction or told the girl's father that he was a registrable sex offender. Barnett admitted to all three breaches and was given a $900 fine and had the breach of home detention excused by District Court judge Jack Costello.
The Director of Public Prosecutions appealed the lenient sentence to the Supreme Court.
Prosecutor Lucy Boord argued the fine undermined laws protecting children from repeat sex offenders.
"The very purpose of these sections is to monitor someone's contact with a child and it strikes at the heart of the purpose of them when he is having contact with a child, albeit that child being in Indonesia," she said.
"(Barnett's) modus operandi for the two sets of offences which went before the District Court was to use his role as a Catholic priest within their small country community to inveigle his way into the family and then abuse the boys."
Over three decades, Barnett, then a priest in a small rural community in SA, abused five boys aged between six and 15. He admitted his crimes to a counsellor in 1995 but then left Australia for Indonesia.
He was arrested in Jakarta in February 2008 for the abuse of three victims.
After spending a year in prison awaiting extradition, Barnett finally arrived in Adelaide in February 2009.
The Supreme Court reserved its decision.