Van Ryn bail decision: Bravehearts calls for magistrate's dismissal


BRAVEHEARTS, an Australian organisation committed to protecting children from sexual assault, is calling for the immediate dismissal of local magistrate Doug Dick.

Magistrate Dick granted the continuation of bail conditions for Maurice Van Ryn after he pleaded guilty to a string of child sex offences in Bega Local Court last week.

Bravehearts founder and CEO Hetty Johnston wrote to NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard and NSW Chief Justice Thomas Bathurst this week to express “grave concerns” about the decision to grant bail.

In the letters, Ms Johnston calls for the immediate dismissal of Magistrate Dick and the review of all his decisions made over the past 24 months.

Maurice Van Ryn of Tathra is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to multiple child sexual abuse charges.

Maurice Van Ryn of Tathra is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to multiple child sexual abuse charges.

Van Ryn pleaded guilty to 12 separate offences involving children under 16, including the most serious, “persistent sexual abuse of a child”, which carries a maximum sentence of 25 years’ jail.

He was committed to the District Court for sentencing on February 2, 2015.

However, after his bail was continued despite the guilty plea, NSW Attorney General Brad Hazzard called for an urgent review into the circumstances and urged the DPP to step in and appeal the decision.

“I am extremely concerned about the decision to grant bail,” Mr Hazzard said last week.

Community concerns were heightened further when it was discovered Van Ryn had committed one of the offences while already on bail for a separate child abuse matter.

In June 2014, Van Ryn was arrested and charged over an act of indecency with a child under 16.

It is believed to have been this matter that prompted other victims to come forward with their stories of abuse that goes back at least 10 years.

He was released on bail.

However, investigations by the BDN show he committed a further offence – an assault with act of indecency - in July this year.

A spokesperson for the NSW Department of Justice said while Van Ryn did not breach any imposed bail conditions, he did commit a further offence while on bail.

This further offence is among those he has since pleaded guilty to and is awaiting sentence.

“By any measure, this decision [to grant bail] is unforgiveable, unfathomable and unacceptable,” Ms Johnston wrote in her letters.

“Van Ryn admitted guilt, admitted committing the most horrendous offences against the most vulnerable members of our community.

“In addition, as the Crown argued, this is a man who has the financial means to abscond if he so wishes and as such poses a flight risk.

“There is absolutely every justification for his detainment pending sentencing.

“When he committed these offences he forfeited his right to be considered above the rights of victims, children and the community.”

A spokesperson from the Department of Justice said the Judicial Commission is the independent body responsible for investigating the conduct of a judicial officer.  

"Any person can make a complaint to the Judicial Commission about a magistrate or judge," the spokesperson said.

"No individual politician can dismiss a judicial officer.  

"Both houses of parliament would consider the removal of a judicial officer if a report was received from the Conduct Division of the Judicial Commission."