Kmart child molester’s ‘inadequate’ sentence to be appealed
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath has appealed the sentence of Sterling Free saying it was "manifestly inadequate".
Free, a father of two from Morayfield, was sentenced on October 10 for kidnapping a seven-year-old girl from Kmart at Westfield North Lakes, driving her to an isolated spot and indecently assaulting her.
He drove the girl back to the centre about an hour later.
The 27-year-old pleaded guilty to taking the child for an immoral purpose, deprivation of liberty, and indecent treatment of a child under 12.
After serving 306 days on remand, Brisbane District Court Judge Julie Dick set Free's parole eligibility date as August, 2021, less than two years from now.
After an outcry of anger over the sentence from the girl's parents, the community and a number of high profile politicians and activists, Ms D'Ath today announced she would appeal the sentence.
About 93,000 people signed a petition on change.org calling for Ms D'Ath to repeal the parole period for Free.
"I understand there has been significant community interest in this matter," she said.
"It is always important that I afford the Director of Public Prosecutions the time necessary to properly consider matters when preparing a brief in consideration of appealing any matter - especially one that involves a child.
"I have now received advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions.
"I have thoroughly considered that advice - and have decided to appeal.
"As the matter will continue to be before the courts, I will not make any further comment."
Judge Dick on sentencing Free decided against making a serious violent offender declaration, despite a recommendation to do so by the prosecution.
"As appalling as the offence is I, cannot be satisfied it's so outside of the norm of that offence that I should make the declaration," Judge Dick said.
Member for Dickson Peter Dutton said the sentence was an "outrage" and called for the Queensland Government to immediately appeal it and introduce legislation to create minimum mandatory sentences for child sex offenders.
State Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said Free should not be eligible for parole at all.
"This horrible human being needs to be locked up for his entire sentence," she said.
"To think this vile grub will be back on the streets in less than two years is totally unacceptable.
"Eight years' jail should mean eight years' jail and not a minute less."
Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said the sentence was "pathetic", questioning if it was long enough for Free to complete sex offender courses.