Child rapist  wins step to  clean slate
Sent back: The judgment ordered the application go back to the District Court.Picture: Neale Prior/The West Australian

A child rapist who abused his stepdaughter for five years has been given another chance to wipe clean his public criminal record, winning a Supreme Court appeal against a decision to refuse him a spent conviction.

The 71-year-old was sentenced to 10 years jail with hard labour, with a minimum of five years after admitting 10 sex offences committed against his stepchild.

The girl was 11 when the offences began in 1977 and the man was charged in 1984, two years after the sexual abuse stopped.

The man, identified only as WHW, completed a sex offender treatment program in jail and has not re-offended since his release. He has remarried, is described as a strong father figure to his wife's three adult daughters and has held senior positions in the mining sector.

He applied to the District Court for his convictions to be spent under a provision of sentencing laws which allows people who have committed serious offences to have the convictions cleared from public record after prescribed periods of time.

But District Court Judge Troy Sweeney dismissed the application, saying the offences were "very serious indeed".

She accepted the man's genuine remorse and a psychologist's report, which found the risk of him reoffending was "extremely low or negligible", but said there were never any guarantees.

Judge Sweeney took into account the public interest in the need for general deterrence through offenders bearing the consequences of a conviction, which included obligations of disclosure which could restrict travel and affect employment.

She also took into account the man's failure to disclose his offending to his wife's daughters.

But the man's appeal was upheld by three Supreme Court justices yesterday, who found Judge Sweeney had failed to take into account the underlying objective of the legislation of encouraging rehabilitation.

The judgment ordered the application go back to the District Court.

The West Australian

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