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Wiccan witch sex offender wants freedom

AAP logoAAP 15/12/2016 Genevieve Gannon

A male witch who prostituted and raped teenage girls wants to be free in the community, claiming the crimes for which he remains under supervision were a pagan religious act.

Robin Fletcher, 60, described his offending as "a huge cultural misunderstanding", saying his practices had a symbolic religious meaning and were not sexually motivated.

Fletcher, who is legally blind, was jailed in 1998 after he used hypnotism and mind-altering techniques to enslave two 15-year-old girls.

He told them it was necessary to fulfil their destiny as "high priestesses of the dark covenant".

He pleaded guilty to one count of prostituting a child, one count of sexual penetration of a child and three of committing an indecent act with a child, and has been subject to extended supervision orders since his release in May 2006.

One of his victims has since committed suicide.

The secretary to the Department of Justice has applied to the Victorian Supreme Court to extend Fletcher's supervision order to prevent him repeating the sadistic acts.

Crown prosecutor David Grace QC on Thursday told the court Fletcher believed the acts were sanctioned by the religion, so they were not wrong.

"He conceded they may have caused the victims some harm as they were too young to understand their significance," Mr Grace said.

"These were his comments 18 months ago," Mr Grace said.

"He still holds these beliefs."

In recent interviews with forensic psychologists James Ogloff and Karen Owen, Fletcher said now he knows the acts are illegal he will exercise self-control.

Dr Owen said Fletcher should remain under supervision but Prof Ogloff told the court Fletcher is a changed man.

"He says he recognises his offending was wrong and it was a mistake, and he gives his absolute assurance he no longer intends to break the law," Prof Ogloff said, noting there had been a range of changes in Fletcher's demeanour.

Fletcher's blindness, disability and notoriety mean he is unlikely to reoffend if released into the community, his barrister said, but the Crown argued the seriousness of Fletcher's crimes meant even a low risk was still too great.

Justice Phillip Priest will rule on the matter in February.

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

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