Recaptured: Sex offenders back behind bars

TWO of the state’s worst sex offenders, who fled from an Ararat correctional facility on Wednesday, will face the rural city's magistrate today.

It will be the first opportunity the two men have had to front a court since they were arrested and remanded in custody at 12.40pm on Thursday.

The offenders, whose identities cannot be revealed for legal reasons, fled from an Ararat correctional facility for high-risk sex offenders on Wednesday.

They escaped at 11.30pm and were recaptured on the Western Highway at Buangor, 23 kilometres south-east of Ararat..

Both men had been residents at Corella Place, a stringently supervised correctional facility for up to 40 of the state’s high-risk sexual offenders.

It is next door to Ararat’s Hopkins Correctional Centre.

A Corrections Victoria spokesperson said Wednesday’s escape took the total number of breakouts since Corella Place opened in 2005 to five.

“The purpose of Corella Place is to primarily protect the community and secondly to rehabilitate offenders,” the spokesperson said.

Corella Place authorities reported the men missing after the electronic monitoring ankle bracelets they were wearing sent alerts notifying staff they were no longer on the premises.

It took more than 13 hours for the men to be found.

Victoria Police’s fugitive task force assisted Ararat police and corrections staff with the search.

Corrections Minister Edward O’Donohue’s spokesman James Talia said it was an unusual length of time for the offenders to be missing.

“For them to be missing for more than a couple of hours is unusual,” he said.

“We thank Victoria Police for their efforts in working to apprehend these offenders so quickly.”

Both men could face up to five years in jail – not Corella Place – for breaching supervision orders.

Corella Place residents have served their prison sentences for their crimes but the state still considers them to pose some risk to public safety. 

“Given these were people who had completed their prison sentences, this was the highest level of supervision we were able to impose,” Mr Talia said.

From early July, Corella Place residents will become the state’s first high-risk sexual offenders to wear GPS-tracking ankle bracelets.

The ankle bracelets will tell authorities precisely where each of the inhabitants are at all times.

Mr Talia said the technology would not prevent people such as the two men from absconding.

“If they are determined to walk away, they will,” he said.

“The difference is that, rather than just being told they’ve left, Corella Place staff will know exactly where they are.”

Mr Talia said the event was unfortunate timing, given the GPS-tracker roll-out would start soon.

“We believe the new technology will make a big difference in cases like this.”

Before the men were arrested, police told the media the offenders had extensive and violent criminal records.

One of the men had been convicted of sexually assaulting a child in a public space. 

Both men were subject to serious sex offender supervision bonds, a requirement of which was that they were not to leave Corella Place without supervision.

They were also subject to curfew conditions. 

Victoria Police spokesperson Natalie Webster confirmed each of the men would face court soon for breaching their supervision orders.

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