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WA to toughen bail laws for sex offenders

AAP logoAAP 17/08/2016 By Greg Roberts

WA's embattled Attorney-General Michael Mischin has reacted to revelations that two pedophiles granted bail were living near schools and childcare centres - one of them within 60 metres - by moving to toughen bail laws.

Mr Mischin is under public pressure for not acting straight away after being alerted last Friday to the fact that Ryan Trevor Clegg, part of the notorious Evil 8 pedophile ring, was living at his father's North Fremantle house near the centre.

Mr Mischin's proposed changes to the Bail Act, which will have to be passed in parliament, involve creating a tougher presumption against serious sexual offenders being released on bail pending sentence.

"The fact this man was released on bail in close proximity to and required to live near a childcare centre, schools and the like is unacceptable, I understand the community's concerns entirely regarding it," he told reporters.

The proposed changes to the act would "correct this particular problem", he said.

High-profile WA criminal lawyer Tom Percy criticised the proposal saying people charged with crimes would stop pleading guilty early, which saves the courts time and money, and instead wait to the last moment if they were to be locked up before they were sentenced.

"It is policy making on the run, a knee-jerk reaction ... politicians should react to public responses but on the basis of one case, I'm not sure," he told 6PR radio.

The Department of Public Prosecutions is also under fire for not opposing bail when Clegg, 43, pleaded guilty on August 4 on 61 charges of sexually abusing a girl who was pimped out to numerous men by her own father.

Local residents complained to authorities after Clegg was recognised in a cafe but he remained living at the home for another three days until he was arrested by police for breaching his bail late Monday night.

Mr Mischin defended his actions on Wednesday, saying he was told police had the "matter in hand" on Friday.

Another two men charged with abusing the girl are out on bail: Nicholas Adam Beer is living in Wanneroo within a five minute walk of a school as he awaits sentencing on 163 counts in September, while Alfred John Impicciatore is pleading not guilty.

WA Law Society president Elizabeth Needham questioned why a man convicted of a crime as serious as sexual penetration of a child got bail in the first case.

"In a case where somebody is likely to go to prison for whatever offence, particularly a very serious offence, then it is unlikely that they will get bail pending the outcome of the sentencing," Ms Needham told AAP.

The Labor opposition unsuccessfully called for Mr Mischin to be sacked in parliament, saying he only acted when the issue was exposed in the media.

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