The sentence of a Mackay child rapist will be appealed.
The sentence of a Mackay child rapist will be appealed.

How people power could help keep a child rapist in jail

A MACKAY child predator given "a slap on the wrist" could be staring down the barrel of a harsher penalty after a strong community push resulted in an appeal of his sentence.

But child protection advocate Bruce Morcombe, who supported a petition for the penalty to be reviewed, has questioned why child sex offender sentences were so light in the first place.

"I think the public is getting ripped off here … I think the judges have got it wrong," he said.

 

Bruce Morcombe said the courts were not giving child sex offenders strong enough penalties. Photo Patrick Woods
Bruce Morcombe said the courts were not giving child sex offenders strong enough penalties. Photo Patrick Woods

Rogelio Acosta Ruiz orally raped an eight-year-old girl in Mackay and vilely "told her to think of it as a lollipop" - he was jailed for three years to be suspended after 12 months and will be free in February.

Mr Morcombe described Ruiz's crime as among "the worst of the worst".

"It's a very brazen attack and the sentence that was handed down is a genuine mystery to myself," Mr Morcombe said.

He spoke of a recent "cluster" of court cases, including this one, where he said "the penalty does not reflect the crime".

"The pendulum doesn't swing both sides, the pendulum only swings on the predator's side."

 

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath.
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath.

Yesterday Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath confirmed she would appeal Ruiz's sentence for being "manifestly unjust".

This comes after a petition to the Queensland Parliament calling for an urgent review of the sentence garnered more than 2600 signatures in eight days.

"That noise was heard by the Attorney-General and it is crucial for the community to know that those efforts don't go unheard," lawyer for the victim's family Katherine Cora said.

"Even though it may feel like signing a petition online isn't going to make a difference, it actually does … the strength in that is amazing."

Ms Cora said she and the child's family also planned to write to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to explore what options there were to revoke Filipino-born Ruiz's Australian citizenship.

 

CALL FOR TOUGHER SENTENCE: Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki with Whitsunday LNP candidate Amanda Camm and the lawyer for the victim's family Katherine Cora
CALL FOR TOUGHER SENTENCE: Shadow Attorney-General David Janetzki with Whitsunday LNP candidate Amanda Camm and the lawyer for the victim's family Katherine Cora

Mr Morcombe said questions needed to be asked, specifically why child predators kept receiving "such skinny sentences".

He believed the courts were "failing" when it came to meeting community expectations over child sex offender penalties.

"The deterrent factor is non-existent at the moment … if (predators) get caught, they're only going to get a slap on the wrist."

He said there needed to be more focus on removing "these predators that prey on our kids off the streets for a lengthy time".

"I think we're a long way from getting the community in a happy position on these sentences that are being handed down in recent history," he said.

 

More on this story:

'Huge trauma': Victim of child rapist haunted by vile act

Legal system failed child rape victim, lawyer claims


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