Legislative Council: Tuesday, May 02, 2023


Wichen, Mr J.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK (15:06): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing questions to the Attorney-General regarding the release of Jacob Arthur Wichen.

Leave granted.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: After attempting to rape a 65-year-old woman in her PortĀ Augusta home in 2002, Jacob Arthur Wichen was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2005, but in 2011 was declared incapable of controlling his sexual instincts and was indefinitely detained. This recidivist sex offender has now been released on licence further to a High Court decision, overturning a Court of Appeal decision that upheld a Supreme Court decision not to release him due to the fear he could not control his sexual instincts.

I understand that this individual is now living under licence at a taxpayer-funded location which is undisclosed to the public. I note that experts have warned that there is a 'material risk' he will not comply with all 27 conditions under the licence. My questions to the Attorney-General are:

1. Can he advise of what projected costs per year to the taxpayer Wichen's release is under licence?

2. Can he comment on the suppression of Wichen's location, which potentially puts his safety above that of the community, particularly for nearby residents?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:07): I thank the honourable member for her question. I will note from the outset that the laws that the courts are applying are the same laws that the former government had and chose not to make changes in relation to these or any of the requirements in relation to the question the honourable member is asking.

As to the cost in terms of having the individual on licence in the community, I am not sure of what the cost is. I don't have those figures. I would imagine it may be similar to the cost of having someone detained in one of our jails. These things do come at a cost, and I think that is entirely appropriate and meets community expectations: that people who have been convicted of serious crimes, even when released, have some level, if the court deems it necessary, of supervision.

I am not sure if the honourable member is suggesting that there should be no cost incurred and there should be no supervision of this offender. If that is their position, and they are going to advocate a policy that people released from jail should never be supervised because there is a cost to the taxpayer, then that is their business to do so, and I am sure South Australians will continue to judge them accordingly. The laws that were applied in this are the same laws that the former Liberal government didn't change.