A child sex abuse prevention charity is to fight a decision to release a high-risk paedophile from jail.
Saving Children and Revealing Secrets said Jonathan Cumberbatch should have “at the very least” been released with conditions, and the charity has filed for a judicial review.
The move came after Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, issued a public warning before Mr Cumberbatch’s planned release on February 21.
Ms Simmons said Mr Cumberbatch, now 55 and sentenced in 2010 to 12 years in prison for crimes against children, was “of the highest risk to the community”.
Saul Dismont, of law firm Marshall Diel & Myers, who is representing the charity, said: “Scars is committed to protecting children from sexual abuse, and in an effort to do so the organisation has filed for a judicial review of the decision to release a serial child sex offender from prison.
“It is understood that he had not participated in any appropriate treatment for child sex offenders while in custody, and given this and his history, Scars is very concerned that he will reoffend.
“This concern is clearly shared by the Attorney-General as she took the rare step of informing the public about his release and warned that he was ‘of the highest risk to the community’.
“It is against this backdrop that Scars argues that if Mr Cumberbatch had to be released, at the very least he should have been released with conditions, such as him being prohibited from being alone with children, being required to participate in treatment and being required to be supervised.”
Mr Dismont added that Scars believed that section 12 of the Prison Act 1979 provided for a conditional release because it said that instead of a prisoner being granted automatic and unconditional release from prison after two thirds of their sentence, they could be released with conditions at any time on or after one third of their prison sentence.
He said: “Section 12 further provides that if the released prisoner breaches the conditions they can be recalled to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence.”
Mr Dismont added that the court had already granted permission for a judicial review and “we are due to proceed to the actual judicial review hearing at a later date”.
He said: “At that hearing, the Attorney-General, the Commissioner of Prisons, the Parole Board and Mr Cumberbatch will be given the opportunity to provide their position on Scars’s application.
“The court will then make a determination on the correct interpretation of section 12 of the Act.
“Scars wishes to make clear that the case is about protecting children, not persecuting Mr Cumberbatch.
“Further, the application is supported by the Coalition for the Protection of Children and Women’s Resource Centre.”
The notice of application was filed on February 21 — the scheduled release date of the sex offender.
Concern about Mr Cumberbatch’s release was also raised by family charities including the Coalition for the Protection of Children, Women’s Resource Centre and the Centre Against Abuse.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said on February 15 that “no legal mechanism” existed to keep Mr Cumberbatch in jail.
He added: “The safety of young people in particular is paramount in our considerations and through the work of the Ministry of Legal Affairs we expect to bring amendments to relevant laws that will increase the powers of the criminal justice system in these terrible cases.”
The Bermuda Government did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
By Lisa Simpson The Royal Gazette