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Officers not guilty of misconduct

By DARREN COYNE

TWO MURWILLUMBAH parole officers were not guilty of misconduct for their role in the controversial transfer of a convicted paedophile to Banora Point from Western Australian, an investigation has found.

Otto Darcy-Searle, 63, was transferred from a Perth jail in July after serving five years of a maximum 11-year sentence for more than 100 child sex offences.

Despite a WA Department of Justice recommendation he remain in prison, Darcy-Searle was released to live with his relatives.

Darcy-Searle was living at Banora Point when the case was brought to public attention by media last month, resulting in protests by residents.

Two Murwillumbah parole officers were then suspended pending an investigation into an alleged failure to show their superiors a 20-page transfer document outlining Darcy-Searle's history.

At the time NSW shadow justice minister Andrew Humpherson claimed the two officers had been made scapegoats by the government. He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

A subsequent investigation into the transfer found the two officers did not act with ill-intent, but were careless when they "responded to requests for information which was in their possession".

Corrective Services Commissioner Ron Woodham said yesterday that the Assistant Commissioner, Luke Grant, had formed the view that there was insufficient evidence to suggest the two officers engaged in misconduct.

"Both officers have been directed to attend Mr Grant's office in Sydney to be personally counselled by him," Mr Woodham said.

Mr Woodham said the Murwillumbah office would remain under scrutiny. Both officers were reinstated earlier this month following a preliminary report.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Woodham is to chair a working party consisting of representatives from other states and territories to discuss a revised process for the interstate transfer of parolees.



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