Sex offender Darren Francis set free
A SERIOUS violent sex offender who was last year returned to prison for a third time for failing a drug test while on conditional release has this morning been released back into the community.
Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Ann Lyons this morning ordered Darren Anthony Francis be released under a restrictive supervision order.
Lawyers for Francis, 36, last week made its latest attempt to secure him freedom after failing to meet conditions of a previous order.
Barrister Brad Farr, SC, for Queensland’s Attorney-General, on Friday argued Francis should continue to be held in custody, but if released be placed under a strict supervision order.
Defence counsel Carl Heaton, for Francis, said his client should be released and that employment would play a significant role in preventing Francis from re-offending.
Francis, then aged 27, was jailed in 1999 for multiple sex offences and degrading physical abuse of his then partner.
He was one of the first prisoners to be held in jail past his 2004 full-time release date under new Queensland laws designed to stop sex criminals from reoffending.
He was released in 2006, but was returned to custody for breaching his supervision order by using drugs and forming an intimate relationship with a woman.
In April last year, the Supreme Court granted Francis conditional release after finding he posed a “low risk” of reoffending.
Justice Philip McMurdo, who granted Francis conditional, supervised release, found that for Francis to be a true risk to the community, he needed to be demonstrating substance misuse while in an intimate relationship.
Justice McMurdo found there was no evidence of those circumstances.
At the time of his release, Francis was also the subject of a six-month, wholly suspended prison term after being convicted by District Court Judge Michael Noud in December 2007 of escaping lawful custody.
Francis last fronted court in July for destroying his monitoring device in the watch-house — fearing other prisoners may harm him, a court has been told.
The Brisbane District Court was told Francis ripped his electronic monitoring device from around his ankle when police placed him in the cell of a Brisbane watchhouswith other inmates after he returned a positive test for cannabis, breaching his supervision order, in March last year.
Judge Michael Shanahan was told the tainted urine sample was a breach of the conditions of Francis’s Supreme Court-approved Dangerous Prisoner (Sexual Offenders) Act supervision order.
Francis removed the device fearing other cell mates may have thought he had been taken into custody for more serious offences, the court was told.
It was implied, although not stated explicitly, that if the other inmates wrongly suspected Francis had committed further sex offences his safety may have been in jeopardy.
Francis was taken from his home, near Brisbane’s western corridor jail precinct, to the Richlands Magistrate’s Court watch-house.
Mr Heaton said Francis had unsuccessfully requested police remove the device before placing him a cell with other detainees.
Judge Shanahan sentenced Francis an additional one month in jail for the breach of the suspended sentence.
Justice Lyons made the formal orders to release Francis at 9.45am today, but her written findings and the conditions of the order are yet to released publicly.
It is expected her findings will be published on-line some time today.