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Paedophile on the move again -

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Paedophile on the move again

The World Today - Friday, 4 July , 2008 12:17:00

Reporter: Annie Guest

ELEANOR HALL: A notorious paedophile has been hounded out of yet another town, creating problems
for authorities.

Dennis Ferguson had been staying just outside the rural town of Miles since Tuesday this week. But
police have now revealed he has moved on yet again.

The 60 residents who picketed his home are no doubt relieved, but legal experts say such action
undermines rehabilitation.

In Brisbane, Annie Guest reports.

ANNIE GUEST: The southern Queensland town of Miles has been a centre of activity.

Helicopters ferried media to the rural community, and the satellite connections cranked up to cover
the outrage over the presence of the convicted paedophile, Dennis Ferguson.

Resident Kat Spencer encapsulated some of the sentiment when about 70 people shouted and waved
placards outside his new home late yesterday.

KAT SPENCER: How would you like him to be put beside you? You'd feel uncomfortable. You wouldn't
want him here. I've got a two-year-old son, you know.

You know kids out here get to play out in the streets and have fun. Now you can't do it out here,
this is the country. You're meant to be able to let your kids do what they want; now you can't.

ANNIE GUEST: Ferguson had been holed up on a property outside Miles since Tuesday when his
notoriety contributed to the Brisbane District Court dropping a new child molestation case against
him.

The protest, or the heightening tension in Miles, worked to drive Ferguson out of the community.
The local mayor, Ray Brown, says the media played a role and anyway the real problem hasn't been
resolved.

RAY BROWN: The real issue here is the legal system and getting things right. I mean, what we're
doing is relocating a problem onto somewhere else and some other community to go through the same
process, and that's where I do have concerns.

I believe the media should probably more focus their efforts in front of the justice system
themselves and see what's happening there.

ANNIE GUEST: So far word hasn't spread about Ferguson's new whereabouts and civil libertarian,
Terry O'Gorman, wants reporters banned from revealing the information.

TERRY O'GORMAN: Some in the media have been setting out to make the news and then step back and
report on the very news that they have made. The media have been responsible for revealing
Ferguson's address. That has inspired vigilantism.

ANNIE GUEST: But the Prime Minister holds a different view. Kevin Rudd has told Fairfax Radio,
people are entitled to know if a paedophile is living in their area.

KEVIN RUDD: My general view is that the community has a right to know, but I am also aware of the
fact that these required detailed and sensitive decisions by the competent legal authorities.

ANNIE GUEST: The latest developments surrounding Ferguson are a familiar scene; he was also driven
out of several towns after his release from prison in 2003. He'd spent 14 years in jail for
kidnapping and molesting children.

And now there's a new development in the battle between Ferguson and some community members.

Noel Watterson is one of the self-confessed vigilantes who drove Ferguson out of the city of
Ipswich. He says Ferguson is suing him under victim of crime laws.

NOEL WATTERSON: Got all the write-ups where what was said all over the conversations when he was
here in Keogh Street. The abuse and, you know, the threats and all this. Yeah he's a victim of
crime, the poor little man.

ANNIE GUEST: Noel Watterson had been given a suspended jail sentence for threatening violence
against Ferguson. As the story continues it's highlighting a gap in the system in handling or
helping people like Ferguson.

STEPHEN SMALLBONE: I think the options are very, very limited.

ANNIE GUEST: Stephen Smallbone is an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at Griffith
University.

He says there is no such thing as a halfway house or other Government accommodation for a person in
Ferguson's situation.

Associate Professor Smallbone says the best rehabilitation would be integration into a community,
but that's unlikely to happen.

STEPHEN SMALLBONE: By trying to, you know, kind of run him out of towns or to restrict
opportunities for him to lead an ordinary life, what are his options? The main one is likely to be
to go underground if you like, you know, increasingly disconnected from society.

ANNIE GUEST: Ferguson was released from his 2003 sentence before Queensland's dangerous prisoner
laws were brought in.

Under those laws, prisoners can be kept in special housing within Brisbane's Wacol Prison grounds
for life. Rehabilitation programs would then continue to be available.

But prison doctor, Wendell Rosevear, says there is nothing for Ferguson.

WENDELL ROSEVEAR: There's a dearth of places where perpetrators could ask for help, so if we are
really are serious about making society safer we help victims and perpetrators regain their values
so that they don't go to repeat behaviours.

ANNIE GUEST: Dr Rosevear says perpetrators need counselling for the benefit of the community and
themselves.

WENDELL ROSEVEAR: I see some, but I can't keep up with demand, and so currently my books are
closed.

ANNIE GUEST: The Queensland's Government's appeal in the Ferguson case will be heard in three
weeks.

ELEANOR HALL: Annie Guest with that report.