Posts Tagged ‘blue card’


Simon Birt - Photo3

Investigation into former Gold Coast teacher’s employment could spark changes to legislation

February 23, 2016 1:00am

A LOOPHOLE that allows suspended Queensland teachers to find work at another school is to be closed.Education Minister Kate Jones yesterday vowed to change the law after it was revealed former teacher Simon Birt was employed at the Australian International Islamic College in February and March last year while suspended from Bellevue Park State school, after allegations he had dealt inappropriately with students.“As a mother and a minister, I think this case highlights a situation where you’ve got to balance natural justice with the community expectation of safety,” Ms Jones said.

“It’s the threshold of information about employment ­details that needs to be ­examined.

“This is the first time that I have had a case like this since I’ve been a minister.”

Mr Birt was suspended in August 2014 while the allegations were investigated by the education department. They were eventually deemed to be unfounded.

On May 7, 2015 while Mr Birt was still being investigated, police charged the former teacher with possessing seven sexually explicit photos of children and an 11-minute video of boys aged 9 to 12.

Mr Birt’s Queensland College of Teachers licence was suspended on May 11.

He pleaded guilty in Southport District Court on February 10 to possessing child exploitation material and was given probation and let off without a conviction.

Ms Jones said that while she was still seeking clarity over the specifics of Mr Birt’s story, it seemed there was a loophole in the legislation. She said she believed the problem arose because there was no official channel through which the Islamic College could verify Mr Birt’s character.

Ms Jones said had Mr Birt applied to teach at another public school, he would have been knocked back.

She said there needed to be a better flow of information between government departments and independent schools.

“It was an accusation and he was immediately suspended,” she said.

“There was no way he would have been employed in a state school while he was on suspension.”

Ms Jones said she was determined to address the loophole and would look at ways she could change the Queensland College of Teachers Act.

Islamic College head of campus, Imam Mohammed Azhari, said he had checked Mr Birt’s registration and was outraged that information regarding the investigation had not been available.

“(When I found out he had been suspended) I contacted the Queensland College of Teachers and asked them what was going on, because he had been teaching at our school,” he said.

“We’ve checked and done all the procedures that we could to avoid the situation and we feel violated and we feel hard done by.

“It should have been noted straight away.”


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Coast man jailed over child porn

Matthew Killoran   |  09:14am February 22, 2013

A PHOTOGRAPHER hired to take pictures of Nippers at a Gold Coast lifesaving club and who was jailed this week on child pornography charges had been through a screening process and held a Blue Card.

Child protection advocates yesterday warned that nothing could be done to prevent perverts from becoming involved in sporting organisations but said banning photography at youth events would be going too far.

David Ross Phillips, of Mudgeeraba, was sentenced this week to four-and–a-half years in jail but will be released after 18 months on a suspended sentence.

He pleaded guilty to four charges of possessing child pornography and exploitation material and two fraud charges unrelated to the lifesaving club.

A Surf Life Saving Queensland spokeswoman said Phillips had been immediately restricted from club events involving children in August 2009, when the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian notified them his Blue Card had been suspended.

“David Phillips worked at North Burleigh Surf Life Saving Club as the club photographer for three weeks from August 2009 to when his appointment was withdrawn in September 2009,” she said.

“During that three-week period there were no Nipper activities or events at the club.”

A Blue Card is a Queensland Government screening system used to determine if someone is eligible to work with children, based on their criminal history.

The spokeswoman said the organisation’s policy on photography and members’ dealings with Nippers was constantly reviewed and kept in line with state legislation.

“Unfortunately, no system is fail-safe when it comes to child predators, but SLSQ clubs, branches and state office can ensure that all steps have been taken according to legislation and risk management strategies that we have in place to protect members,” she said.

It is SLSQ policy that anyone who works with children must go through a screening process and have a Blue Card.

It also requires permission, where possible, from a child’s parents before taking a photo or publishing it.

Bravehearts founder Hetty Johnston said banning photography at youth sporting events would be going too far.

“When it comes to parents taking photos of their kids playing sport, it’s an over-reaction,” she said.

Scout leader sent flirty texts to girl

12:00a.m. 14th October 2008

|By  Blythe Seinor

A Sunshine Coast scout leader and school bus driver has pleaded guilty to a charge after sending flirtatious text messages to a 14-year-old girl.

He will not be able to work with children again.

David Scott Grieve, 42, sent a series of messages to the high school student on September 5 last year after a drinking session with his mates.

Mr Grieve pleaded guilty yesterday to using electronic equipment to expose a child under the age of 16 to indecent matter.

The bus driver had obtained the girl’s phone number earlier that day.!

He had wanted to sign her and a friend up to the scout group of which he was a leader.

Maroochydore District Court heard yesterday that 14 text messages were exchanged between Mr Grieve and the girl while she was at a friend’s house.

When the friend’s mother discovered the text messages she immediately contacted police.

The court heard the girl had already deleted many of the messages by the time officers looked at her phone.

Mr Grieve was charged with using electronic equipment to expose a child under the age of 16 to indecent matter.

The crown prosecution argued that Mr Grieve was aware of the girl’s age from her bus pass.

Mr Grieve subsequently lost his Blue Card, which is a requirement of working with children.

He also lost his job as a bus driver and has left his position as scout leader.

Mr Grieve now works as a security provider in hotels and bars around the Sunshine Coast.

Defence barrister Stephen Courtney told the court Mr Grieve had suffered “significant embarrassment” after news of the offence spread around the hinterland town in which he lives.

“The offending was a stupid game after some drinks, with no intent to go any further,” Mr Courtney said.

Mr Courtney said his client could not recall how the text session began.

He suggested it would be a more serious offence if Mr Grieve was a school teacher.

“If a teacher engaged in an exchange like this it would be very concerning,” Judge John Robertson said.

Judge Robertson did not record a conviction but sentenced Mr Grieve to serve 180 hours of community service.

“You have engaged in this conduct spontaneously, the texts obtained indicate there was a form of exchange with the 14-year old girl,” Judge Robertson said.

He said Mr Grieve was a mature man who should have known better.

“You as the adult in a position of trust should not have allowed yourself to get involved in sexual interaction with a child.”


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No blue card needed for role

9th Mar 2005 8:00 AM


A SCHOOL crossing guard who continued working for three months after police busted him with almost 9000 child pornography images on his computer last year did not need a blue card for his role.

And with no criminal record until police charged Peter Grant Finch three months after a raid on his Beachmere home in July, his employer Queensland Transport had no knowledge.

A Queensland Transport spokesman said yesterday the department suspended the 42-year-old on the day police charged him, October 11 last year.

Mr Finch, who was ordered to serve a 12-month intensive correction order in the community by a district court judge on Monday, had downloaded 8814 child abuse images of three to 15-year-olds from the internet.

A Queensland Police spokesperson said investigations often took a long time after material was seized.

All evidence needs to be examined by a forensic examiner before a person can be charged.

Since January 17 this year, all lollipop men and women must hold a blue card with existing employees retrospectively screened.

Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian, Elizabeth Fraser, said the changes applied to paid or volunteer roles.

Mr Finch would have been eligible for a blue card until October.But Ms Fraser said police regularly informed the Commission of any changes in a blue card holder’s criminal history and holders could be jailed for not notifying of any change.

She said a blue card would be suspended immediately for possession of child porn.

Crossing guards catalogue of shame

8th Mar 2005 8:01 AM


A SCHOOL crossing supervisor with almost 9000 child abuse images on his computer walked free from Maroochydore Courthouse yesterday after being ordered to serve his 12-month correctional order in the community.

Maroochydore District Court Judge John Robertson told Peter Grant Finch, 42, that he was a pathetic figure who was contributing to the child pornography industry by downloading the 8814 depraved images of kids.

He said he could not believe the father-of-three, with a Year 12 education, failed to realise the significance of his actions.

This appears to be one of the largest, if not the largest, (number of images) found in downloaded files, he said.

Its obvious somewhere in the world exploitation of children is taking place.

They (the images) involve actual children being exploited by the worst kind of criminal.

But with Mr Finchs eldest son in his care, a guilty plea and no criminal history Judge Robertson sentenced the disability pensioner to a 12-month intensive correction order.

Police seized compact discs, floppy discs, a hard drive and a computer tower from Mr Finchs Beachmere home during police raids on hundreds of Sunshine Coast homes on July 9 last year.

Police identified 543 folders on Mr Finchs hard drive separated in two folders in My Documents titled B and G.

Folder B contained 176 sub-folders full of images of boys performing oral sex on adult males and adult males having anal intercourse with male children.

Folder G had 358 sub-folders full of images of girls performing oral sex on adult males and adult males having anal and vaginal sexual intercourse with female children.

The girl folder also depicted female children aged between three and 15 years of age displaying their private parts.

Prosecutor Sharon Webb said Mr Finchs computer also contained images of children in school uniform using a school crossing and children in a neighbourhood setting in a swimming pool from a camera peeking through the bushes.

She said Mr Finch, who was a school crossing guard until October last year and worked in his childrens classroom as a teachers aide, had systematically organised the images which he downloaded between October 9, 2002 and June 1, 2004.

Ms Webb said the majority of the children pictured were five to seven year olds but included toddlers.

Defence barrister John Parker, instructed by Ryan and Bosscher, said Mr Finch was experiencing depression and problems with his ex-wife, initially believing she was sending the unsolicited pop-up screens to set him up.

Mr Parker said Mr Finch, who had an industrial accident in the mid-90s which led to permanent knee and back damage, downloaded some images out of curiosity but became increasingly more curious over time.

He said Mr Finch now realised the wrong that lay behind his actions.


Sex crime list for Salvation Army

  • by: Padraic Murphy
  • From:  The Australian
  • October 11, 2008 12:00AM

THE Salvation Army has established an internal registry for sex-offenders after an officer who was dismissed from the NSW chapter for a string of sex crimes re-emerged in the charity’s Mackay branch in Queensland, rising to become the city’s face of the movement before befriending and raping a seven-year-old girl.

Bill Ferris, 75, was sentenced this week to 6 1/2 years for raping the girl whose family had gone to him for help.

Ferris was arrested on New Year’s Eve in 2006, the day after he chased the victim around while wearing only a shirt and exposing himself before raping her on a couch.

The girl told her mother that Ferris “was saying things that were not good or nice. He was trying to do things to me which only grown-ups can do”.

Outwardly Ferris was known as a kind and gentle man who had devoted his life to charity, stepping up his work after his wife died several years ago.

He was trusted in Mackay, a city in which he had grown up, and had spent nearly 40 years with the Salvos.

Faltering couples turned to him for help, he ran the men’s fellowship group every weekend and co-ordinated the Salvos’ emergency services, appearing regularly in local newspapers dressed in full uniform.

But Ferris had a history of sexual offences dating back 40 years which the Salvation Army’s internal vetting procedures failed to pick up.

He was convicted in NSW in 1984, 1985, 1986 and 1990 for sex offences, including exposure and the sexual assault of children that went back to the 1960s and 70s.

Those convictions saw him thrown out of the Salvos’ Maroubra branch in NSW and quit his job as a guard at Long Bay jail, but the charity’s then policy meant pedophiles convicted in one state could re-emerge in another, their personal files never crossing state lines.

Even in Mackay, there were concerns raised about Ferris in 2005, two years before he was arrested. At that stage he refused to apply for a blue card, which by then had become mandatory for people working with children, and local supervisors were concerned enough to ensure he did not work with children.

Mackay’s Salvation Army identity jailed for raping little girl

9th Oct 2008 8:05 AM

Phillip Mark Douglas

Posted: October 28, 2012 by Serendipity in Location, Queensland
Tags: , , , ,

Former bus driver’s actions were ‘depraved’

November 21, 2011

A former bus driver’s use of sexually explicit language to “groom” children as young as 11 over the internet has been described as heinous by a judge.

Phillip Mark Douglas,46, pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to five counts of using a carriage service to groom someone under the age of 16, one count of transmitting child pornography and one count of sexual assault.

Judge Gregory Koppenol, in handing down sentences for the crimes, described the offences as very serious.

“The conversations were explicit. I regard your actions as depraved. I think you humiliated and embarrassed these young girls and, in some instances, continued your sexual conversations with them for your own sexual gratification. Offences involving child pornography are heinous offences which are rightly condemned by the community,” he said.

Douglas was sentenced to three years in prison.

‘Depraved’ man groomed children

21st November 2011

SEXUALLY explicit language used to lure children as young as 11 over the internet by a 46-year-old former bus driver was described as heinous by a judge on Friday.

Phillip Mark Douglas pleaded guilty in the Rockhampton District Court to five counts of using a carriage service to groom someone under the age of 16, one count of transmitting child pornography and one count of sexual assault.

Judge Gregory Koppenol, in handing down sentences for the crimes, described the offences as very serious.

“The conversations were explicit,” he said.

“I regard your actions as depraved. I think you humiliated and embarrassed these young girls and, in some instances, continued your sexual conversations with them for your own sexual gratification.

“Offences involving child pornography are heinous offences which are rightly condemned by the community.”

Crown Prosecutor Dearne Galbraith told the court Taskforce Argos, the Queensland-based police squad that deal with child pornography and child groomers, monitored Mr Douglas’ computer usage between April 28, 2009 and May 11, 2009, during which time the taskforce contacted him using a pseudonym.

She said after Douglas transmitted 11 category one images, police executed a search warrant and found, on Douglas’ computer, chat conversations with five girls, one which had identified as living in the Netherlands.

“We can’t suggest it was definitely a child,” Ms Galbraith said.

“It certainly wasn’t a Queensland covert officer.”

Three of the chatters claimed they were 11 years old, one claimed they were 12 and the other claimed she was 15.

She said this case was different to other child grooming cases in that usually one child was groomed by an offender over a long period of time.

“Most chats with the girls were two or three chats over a period of 20 months, and totalling some six and a half hours,” Ms Galbraith said.

Defence Barrister Jeff Clarke said his client was close to his sister and mother, but not his brothers, and that he suffered significant social isolation.

“He’s never had a significant relationship with a member of the opposite sex,” he said.

Douglas received three-year prison-term sentences, with parole eligibility after 12 months, for six of the offences and 12 months for the other offence.

He will also be subject to a three-year good behaviour term and two years probation, once released from jail.

Douglas will serve his sentences concurrently.

Bus driver on child porn charges

Melinda Siegmeier | 24th June 2009

A YEPPOON bus driver was yesterday stripped of his blue card and banned from going near children after police charged him with a string of child pornography offences.

Phillip Mark Douglas, 44, is also accused of grooming children for sex over the internet and engaging them in “highly sexualised chat”.

He was granted bail in Rockhampton Magistrates Court yesterday after police arrested and charged him on Monday.

Douglas is charged with possessing child exploitation material and three counts of using a carriage service to access child pornography.

Police said more charges may be laid, as a thorough search of his computer was still to be completed.

His arrest was part of police task force Argos, a major state investigation into the possession and distribution of child exploitation images.

Police seized Douglas’s computer on June 16 – the same day a 34-year-old Brisbane man, who was arrested through Argos, received a five-year prison sentence, the highest in Australia for using the internet to procure children.

Police prosecutor Constable Darryl Cox told the court Douglas was heavily involved in websites that distributed the sexually explicit material.

He also said he had several online identities and if he was granted bail, police fear his offending might escalate to physical contact with children.

“He has been grooming children as young as 11 online and engaged them in highly sexualised chat,” Constable Cox said yesterday during his bail objection.

“Given his preference for young girls he may move on to physical contact.”

Constable Cox said police feared that if let back into society, Douglas would try to destroy evidence which may lead to more charges.

Duty solicitor Anthony De Fraine yesterday said Douglas was a low risk of reoffending and should be granted bail because it may take months before the matter was brought back before the courts.

Mr De Fraine said Douglas worked as a bus driver for a number of years until May, 2008.

“He has strong ties to the community and isn’t a flight risk,” he said.

Douglas has no prior criminal history and was not required to enter a plea yesterday.

Magistrate John McGrath granted him bail with strict conditions.

Douglas must report to Yeppoon police station three days a week, not use the internet, not have any direct or intentional contact with children under 16 years and not enter or approach an airport.

The matter will now be dealt with by the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions and has been adjourned to July 22.

Douglas’s computer could take up to six months to be fully examined.

Scouts volunteer had 700 child porn images on computer

  • by: Tristan Swanwick
  • From: The Courier-Mail
  • September 25, 2008 12:00AM

A VOLUNTEER in the Scouts movement who also coaches junior soccer has appeared in the Brisbane District Court on child pornography charges.

Police found nearly 700 child porn images on a computer belonging to Dennis John Dawson, 60, who pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child exploitation material.

The court was told Dawson’s computer had no password to restrict access, despite being networked with three other computers in his family’s Belbworie home.

A Crown prosecutor told the court the award-winning architect had been involved in the Scouts movement and also taught junior soccer and held a blue card allowing him to work with children.

He said the offending images, which police discovered after a tip-off from the man’s internet service provider, included boys aged eight to 15 posing naked and engaged in sexual acts with each other and adult men.

Dawson admitted his sexual interest in young boys when interviewed by police, the court was told.

Judge Leanne Clare told Dawson: “Your case should be taken as a clear warning to others that the internet is not anonymous and (child pornography) is not a victimless crime.”

“People engaged in this will eventually be caught and publicly exposed, bringing shame on themselves and their innocent family,” she said.

She sentenced him to six months in jail, to be wholly suspended.


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