Rapist stripped of flood award

A VOLUNTEER who helped people during the floods had his invitation to today's disaster heroes ceremony scrapped after Premier Anna Bligh learned of his criminal record.

Bob Riddler was convicted of a violent rape in 1997 and spent 12 years in jail before being released last September.

He said he'd been trying to turn his life around and when the floods hit in January, he volunteered at Shiloh Christian Church in Goodna.

On May 20, Mr Riddler received a letter from Anna Bligh telling him he was nominated by people in the community as a Queensland Disaster Hero.

“You have demonstrated amazing community spirit during these tough times and we couldn't have continued on the road to recovery without your tireless efforts,” Ms Bligh wrote.

“I would then like to invite you to attend a very special Queensland Disaster Heroes ceremony.”

But four days later, a letter arrived for Mr Riddler from the Premier's director-general Ken Smith.

“It has now come to my attention that you have a serious criminal history,” it said.

“After discussing this matter with the Premier, I have decided that it would be inappropriate for you to accept this award and to attend the ceremony in Ipswich.

"I trust you can appreciate the reasons for this decision.”

Mr Riddler told the Queensland Times yesterday he was convicted of raping a sex worker on the Gold Coast in 1997.

He was also convicted of armed robbery and assault and was sentenced to 12 years in jail in March 1999.

He was released last September and this year was put on a five-year supervision order.

In January, his house wasn't flooded but he couldn't get home because roads were flooded.

“When I got to the Shiloh Church I saw a need. I did whatever was needed,” Mr Riddler.

“I bought a van just before the floods and I've done 20,000km in five months; cleaning houses, removing rubbish.

“The Corrections Department was aware of what I was doing.

"They came up and spoke to me.

“I was doing deliveries of food and furniture; I was working 14 hours a day, seven days a week.”

He said he even met the Premier when she visited Goodna.

“She said knew about me because I'd made a carrot cake that was sent to her office.

"She said: ‘You're the famous Bob' and shook my hand,” he said.

He said he owned up to his criminal past and deserved the chance to turn his life around.

“I'm not the person I was 15 years ago. I turned 54 last week and I realised I don't want to go back to that,” he said.

“I made a mistake; I'm not trying to hide it but I keep being made to pay for it.

"It's not like I'm a pedophile and I'm hanging around schools.

“I'm trying to give something back and this is a kick in the guts.

“For the first time I'm proud of myself.

"Am I meant to be treated like this for the rest of my life?

“I want to prove them wrong now; I want to be a success story.”

Shiloh Pastor Alan Morris said Mr Riddler was of great assistance during the floods.

“He worked with the Corrections Department and with our full knowledge,” Pr Morris said.

“He worked as hard as anyone here; he put in a lot of hours.

"He was as worthy of an award as anyone else here.

“I can assure you no-one here is fearful of him or that he will lapse.

"We're just giving him a chance.

“He did really bad stuff and a lot of people don't get a chance to make up for it.”

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