In an ironical turn of events Dennis Ferguson, the Australian paedophile acquitted under some controversial circumstances recently, is under heavy police security. And those guarding him fear mob violence.
District judge Botting had set him free saying the 60-year-old convicted sex offender would not get a fair trial in Queensland on new child sex charges in view of the frenzy his case had evoked.
AdvertisementFerguson is now being cared for by a church group on a property southeast of Brisbane at a cost to taxpayers of $1000 a day and supervised by police around the clock.
About 1000 people at a public forum in Carbrook, south of Brisbane, Sunday night protested Ferguson's presence in their midst.
Queensland Police Minister Judy Spence and Acting Police Commissioner Kathy Rynders were shouted down by the crowd at the meeting.
A police prosecutor, senior constable Heather Steinberg, received a standing ovation after she said her job was at risk but she had to protest against convicted pedophile Dennis Ferguson's presence for the sake of her two daughters aged two and four.
``Why is the commissioner making me protect him and not my children,'' she wanted to know.
Another woman said she was able to see the house where Ferguson was living.
``Our freedom has gone. You have imprisoned us in our own home. My children are frightened,'' she said.
Howls of derision met Spence's attempts to explain that Ferguson was technically a free man.
``Whether you like it or not Dennis Ferguson has been allowed to be a free man by the courts,'' she said, but not many would seem to buy it.
Even the well-known child rights activist Hetty Johnston was heckled when she pointed out that paedophiles were there in every community. There were also calls for the removal of judge Hugh Botting.
Immediately after his release, Ferguson had sought to stay in his own home, but was forced out by his furious neighbours.
In and out of jail for a few years now, he is hounded out whenever he tries to settle down somewhere. People argue, "Our children are not safe when he is on the prowl."
Such is the mob hysteria, the police are having a tough time of it guarding him, and guarding themselves.
Queensland Police Union of Employees (QPSU) president Cameron Pope said officers guarding Ferguson were bearing the brunt of public anger against the convicted child molester. Pope said police had to ensure that everyone obeyed the law.
"That includes Dennis Ferguson and that includes those who would want to start a lynch mob at the entrance to the premises where he is being housed," Pope said.
"Our concern is that police are being drawn into the middle of this and there is the possible escalation of violence which is not acceptable in this situation, or in any situation," Pope said.
"Everyone has a right to voice their opinions but we would just ask for calmness in doing so."
Earlier in the week, a man from Munruben, south of Brisbane, was charged for threatening Ferguson over telephone and another has been seen outside the Carbrook house waving a noose.