Due to his morbid obesity, convicted paedophile Peter John O’Neill has escaped prison time, after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting six boys in the 1980s at three Tasmanian schools.
The former school teacher, now living in Canberra, has pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault and one count of a young person’s penetrative sexual abuse.
Mr O’Neill was found to be medically unfit for a trip to Tasmania.
He weighs 140 kg and suffers from chronic pain, spinal injury and sleep apnoea. His five-year term has been suspended indefinitely, allowing him to live at his home in Canberra.
Chief Justice Alan Blow told the Hobart Supreme Court that O’Neill deserves to spend a long time in prison,” but the method of extraditation is too costly and too difficult.
O’Neill is unable to fly on regular flights or drive large distances by car, as it will cost up to $40,000 for special medical transport.
Justice Blow said that home detention was pointless because O’Neill could not leave his house without support.
Rachel Grgurevic is a former classmate of Mr. O’Neill’s and has received more than 20,000 signatures on behalf of the victims to challenge his sentence.
“It’s not acceptable. He needs to come down here and pay for what he’s done,” Ms Grgurevic said.
“Being an overweight person shouldn’t be an excuse for bad behaviour, and certainly shouldn’t be an excuse for crimes against children,” Child protection advocate and Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said.
“It does not pass the pub test – not even close.”