Australian pedophile gets Thai royal pardon

from the AP

Convicted child sex offender Bradley Pen Dragon could be back in Australia within days following his release from a Thai prison, thanks to a royal pardon.

Once back home, Pen Dragon is expected to be placed on a register of convicted sex offenders, enabling police to monitor his movements and forcing him report to authorities.

Pen Dragon, a 46-year-old Queenslander, emerged from Bangkok’s Klong Prem prison on Friday after serving nearly 10 years of a 15-year sentence.

He was handcuffed and taken to a detention centre pending his deportation to Australia.

"All I want a chance is just to live a quiet life," he told ABC radio on his release.

"I’ll live it as far away from anybody and everything as I can."

Pen Dragon was one of about 70 foreign prisoners released from Klong Prem on Friday.

About 25,000 prisoners were pardoned to mark 60 years of rule by Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade stressed the Australian government would not be paying for his return to Australia, the cost of which would be met by Pen Dragon or his family.

He will be given a one-way travel document valid only for Australia following the cancellation of his passport.

Pen Dragon was the first foreigner jailed for child sex offences in Thailand after he was convicted of the rape of a nine-year-old handicapped girl.

He lured the girl from her village and paid her $5 to perform sex acts.

The 46-year-old has spent time in prison for possessing pornography and blasphemy and was sentenced to 15 years’ jail in 1997 for threatening, beating and raping two girls, aged eight and 11, in a Bangkok hotel room in 1993.

In a newspaper interview from inside prison, Pen Dragon admitted to having had sex with at least five girls aged between eight and 12 during his time in Thailand and claimed he had been made a scapegoat to appease a public outcry.

With his history of child sex offences, Pen Dragon is likely to be placed on a national register of offenders, administered by the states.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Chris Ellison said Pen Dragon should be eligible to be placed on the Australian National Child Offender Register (ANCOR), but it was a matter for the states to determine.

All states and territories have put in place laws implementing the register bar South Australia, which is expected to enact legislation soon.

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) said if placed on the register, Pen Dragon’s movements and activities would be monitored and he would be forced to report to authorities on a regular basis.

The AFP will be notified of when he is due to arrive in Australia.

Activists working to combat child sex crimes are concerned that Pen Dragon could pose a danger if he is released into the Australian community without adequate supervision.

Bernadette McMenamin, who heads Child Wise, the Australian arm of an international network fighting sex tourism, said she was horrified Pen Dragon was being freed.

"My reaction to the pardon of Bradley Pen Dragon is one of shock but also horror," she told ABC radio.

"I believe that he is a danger to children around the world, to children in very vulnerable communities."

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