A dangerous sex offender has reportedly been relocated amid fears for his own safety just days after being released into a Wheatbelt community under strict conditions.
Patrick Comeagain was released from prison last Thursday despite the judge who approved his release conceding there was still a risk he could reoffend.
The name of the town where he has been living was suppressed by the courts and residents say they were given no warning of the decision to house him in their area.
Earlier today is was reported that female residents of a Wheatbelt town were Comeagain was living had begun arming themselves for protection.
Several women are believed to have left town because their husbands work away and they are too scared to be at home alone.
One resident, who cannot be named, said she was now carrying a hammer in her handbag, while three of her staff were carrying pepper spray.
"I have lived here for 14 years and I have never felt unsafe in this town, but now I do," the woman said.
"People are just so angry. Have we learnt nothing from the Jill (Meagher) case in Melbourne."
Another woman told The West Australian she had a shotgun in her house and was not afraid to use it if Comeagain set foot on her property.
Others have posted threatening messages on social media, sites which appear to encourage vigilante action.
"Find them and get rid of them," one post said.
"A good old-fashioned lynching never hurt anyone."
But it appears Comeagain has been moved to another town amid fears for his safety.
A spokesman for WA's Department of Corrective Services said police had “taken” Comeagain but could not provide further details.
Comeagain's history of sexual offending began in 1987. In 1994 he was jailed for 10 years for an attack on a nine-year-old girl.
Within weeks of his release in 1999, he raped two women in their homes. The town where he is living does not have a police station and the nearest one is about a 30-minute drive.
While in the community, Comeagain must comply with strict conditions including electronic monitoring, a night-time curfew, a ban on drugs and alcohol and a requirement that he live with his fiancee whom he met while in jail.
But one young mother who lives near Comeagain has been staying and whose husband works away said the conditions did nothing to make her feel secure.
"I am too scared to sleep in my house at night," she said.
A community meeting had been organised for tonight which about 200 people were expected to attend, including police.
Police Commissioner Karl O'Callaghan yesterday said he empathised with people living in the same town as a convicted rapist, saying he understood why they were in fear.
"I certainly don't think these people should be out on the street," he said.
"There has been a couple of them recently, they have very very bad sexual offending history and they should simply not be out there," he said.
"The issue for us is the community is much safer if they are behind bars in prison. When they're out there's always going to be a risk.
"But this is the decision of the court, it is not the decision of police," he said.
"It was opposed by the DPP and the State and still, knowing this person is a dangerous sex offender, that person is on release."
"Bear in mind the management of these offenders is costing the taxpayer of WA hundreds of thousands of dollars in corrective services time and police time."
Mr O'Callaghan said the Department of Corrective Services was responsible for monitoring the offender and police would respond to any incidents.
But he warned the community not to take matters into their own hands.
"Vigilante action is illegal obviously," he said.
"If there's an issue, report it to police.
"If there's a breach that you know about report it to police. But if you take matters into your own hands you risk being charged with an offence."
Police Minister Liza Harvey also again said she thought the man should be behind bars.
"At some point, when you have a high rate or recidivism and a trail of victims behind you, where does the community expect this person to be," she said.
"I think the community are telling us loudly and clearly they would prefer him to be behind bars."
But she said she had confidence in DCS to manage the offender in the community.