Monday, July 7, 2008

Ferguson's next option could be street, says Spence

Notorious pedophile Dennis Ferguson could be out "on the street" if he is hounded from his latest residence, Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence says.

The convicted child molester has been taken to a four hectare property at Carbrook, about 35km southeast of Brisbane, to be cared for by a church group at a cost to taxpayers of $1,000 a day.

Ferguson, 60, was forced to leave a property at Miles in western Queensland last week because of an angry protest by locals.

But Ms Spence said if Ferguson was hounded out of his latest address, there was nowhere else for him to go but the streets.

"If he is hounded out of this residence, we don't have any other options to offer him," Ms Spence told reporters today.

"He will be out there on the street."

Police are monitoring Ferguson after he was freed last week by a judge who ruled that adverse publicity meant he would not get a fair trial on new child sex charges.

Ms Spence said the Carbrook community was told at the weekend that Ferguson had been relocated to the property, which is more than two kilometres from schools and more than three kilometres from a child care centre.

Late today police were guarding the front gate of the property as the media gathered outside.

Ferguson's new neighbours had contacted authorities this morning, expressing their concerns, she said.

Ms Spence and Hetty Johnston, founder of child advocacy group Bravehearts, will attend a public meeting tomorrow night at Carbrook's Kimberley College.

A resident from a property next to Ferguson's new home, who asked to be known only as "Stuart", said he was concerned for the safety of children in the area.

"All I want to do is get rid of this dirtbag next door," Stuart told AAP tonight.

Asked if he would try to get Ferguson to leave, Stuart replied: "If he lived next door to you, what would you do?

"At the end of the day, we just paid a squillion dollars for this property and then some dirtbag next door moves in and they give him three meals a day and get half a dozen coppers to look after his welfare."

Ms Spence defended the $1,000 a day fee paid to the church group looking after Ferguson, which is experienced in working with prisoners, including sex offenders.

"We engage a number of Christian groups to help with the corrections department generally," Ms Spence said.

"Probably it's the first time we've engaged a group to do it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"We wouldn't want to sustain $1,000 a day forever, that's for sure.

"But obviously, the most important thing is to keep the community safe.

"And we've got to obviously work with Dennis Ferguson for some time before we can have any degree of certainty that he's living comfortably in the community and people are going to feel safe living around him."

Ms Johnston said she understood the concerns of parents, but the community now had to come to terms with Ferguson.

"The judge let him out, so he's out here and that's what we now have to deal with," she said.

"I congratulate the minister and police - they actually informed the neighbours, which is not something we've seen a lot before.

"So the neighbours are informed and that is a good place to start."

Ms Spence encouraged the public to attend tomorrow's meeting.

"Understand that this is not the only offender living in the (Queensland) community, so it's really important that people come along and, hopefully, we will also provide some personal safety training for the kids in the days following that," she said.

The training would likely be held in a nearby community hall.


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