Killers could be kept in jail until they reveal where they buried their victims’ bodies, under conditions being considered by a review of Queensland’s parole system.
The “no body, no parole” laws were introduced in South Australia in July last year with calls for similar legislation in Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, where independent speaker Peter Wellington threw his support behind a petition.
He pointed to the case of murdered schoolgirl Jessica Gaudie, whose family still had not been reunited with her body 17 years after her death.
Former solicitor-general Walter Sofronoff QC said a submission on the subject was one of several he’d received since he was appointed to head the review in August.
“A prisoner who is in for murder, has been convicted of murder and who has refused to acknowledge guilt and has refused to identify where the body can be found in cases where the body’s disappeared, there’s an issue whether that person should be permitted to apply for parole while that state of affairs continues,” he told ABC radio on Wednesday, adding that he would fly to Cairns to speak to the writer.
“That’s a very interesting question to me and it’s not one that would have been obvious to me unless this person had brought it to my attention.”
The review, in the wake of the alleged murder of 81-year-old grandmother Elizabeth Kippin at the hands of a parolee in Townsville, is due by the end of November.
Corrective Services Commissioner Mark Rallings labelled it the worst case involving a parolee Queensland had ever seen.
The respected barrister said it was too early to answer many questions definitively but he was also considering the roles of drugs and mental health in prisons and the rights of a victim’s family to oppose parole.
He said 50 per cent of prisoners had admitted to using methamphetamine in the year before imprisonment compared to about 9 per cent for opiates.
Mr Sofronoff praised an opiate program running in Queensland prisons but said he wasn’t aware of a similar program for meth.
“Meth is a nasty, deadly drug that is like a time bomb waiting to explode and the consequences can be deadly to others,” he said.
“So … if a significant proportion of them are addicted, unless there are programs in place to deal with that, it doesn’t matter if you release them on parole.
“It doesn’t matter if you don’t release them. There are going to be problems when they come out.”
Mr Sofronoff said mental health issues and the effect of the prison system on prisoners also needed to be considered.
– with AAP