Halvagis calls for changes

first_imgGeorge Halvagis, father of Mersina Halvagis who was brutally murdered by serial killer Peter Norris Dupas, says that a reformed Victorian Adult Parole Board should include those who have felt the pain of losing a loved-one to a convicted killer.“We don’t want millionaires, former judges or former solicitors. We want the parole board to be run by people in the community that understand the pain of losing your child,” Mr Halvagis told Neos Kosmos last week.Mr Halvagis’ plea comes following the Victorian government’s engagement of former High Court Justice Ian Callinan to review the state’s parole system following the conviction of Adrian Bayley for the rape and murder of ABC employee Jill Meagher.Last month it was revealed that the parole board had been warned five times about Bayley’s behaviour in the year before he killed Ms Meagher – but did nothing. The Victorian Sentencing Advisory Council described the board’s decision to release Bayley as a “catastrophic error”.In a statement supplied to Neos Kosmos by the Adult Parole Board, David Provan, general manager of the board, said changes made to the system since the Jill Meagher case have strengthened the scrutiny of sex and violent offenders on parole.He added that the parole process was designed “to promote public safety by supervising and supporting the release and reintegration of prisoners into the community”.Victoria’s Adult Parole Board comprises 23 people including 10 ‘community representatives’ who sit alongside magistrates and judges.George Halvagis believes the reforms being considered by Justice Callinan need to include a recommendation that those personally touched by the horrific loss of a loved one at the hands of a repeat offender should play a role in the parole board’s deliberations.“It’s not working,” says Mr Halvagis. “The killers are let out and they’re killing our children. “I always knew it was a time bomb waiting to explode. Since I’ve been campaigning, there have been about 8 girls killed by parolees let out.”Mr Halvagis, who is an ambassador for Crimestoppers, successfully lobbied for changes to legislation that allowed police to question convicted prisoners about other crimes they may have committed. The reforms paved the way for Peter Dupas, one of Australia’s most notorious serial killers, to be jailed for life for the murder of George’s daughter and Margaret Maher, who Dupas murdered a month before he killed Mersina.The families of recent Victorian murder victims Sarah Cafferkey and Elsa Corp have joined Mr Halvagis in criticising the Parole Board’s structure and working practices, calling its decision-making process a deadly risk to the community.Sarah Cafferkey, 22, of Bacchus Marsh, was murdered in 2012 by Steven James Hunter, whose parole on other crimes had expired nine days earlier. Elsa Corp was murdered by parolee David Patrick Clifford in 2010.Sarah Cafferkey’s mother, Noelle Dickson, told reporters this week: “We, the Victorian public, need answers as to why such a system remains in place when it clearly isn’t working.”Andrew Corp, father of hairdresser Elsa Corp, said the parole board was not accountable.“They are letting out people who are a risk to the community,” Mr Corp said.Victoria is reported to be the only state in which the parole board is not required to provide publicly accessible evidence for its decisions. Reasons to allow parole in the first instance, then not to re-imprison parolees after a breach, in the present system remain clouded in confidentiality.Meanwhile more than a dozen murders have been allegedly committed by parolees in Victoria in recent years, including those of Jill Meagher and Altona sisters Colleen and Laura Irwin in 2007.George Halvagis says that he would like to see at least half the board’s membership made up of individuals with direct experiences of losing a loved one in repeat offender homicide cases.“We want serious killers never to come out again and serve all the sentence they’ve been given.“That’s what I’m fighting for and I’ll carry on fighting until they change it.” Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagramlast_img

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