$500k of taxpayer help for paedophile
IT'S supposed to help Aussies who are banged up abroad in desperate circumstances, but a controversial legal aid scheme aided a notorious paedophile to the tune of $525,000.
Last month one of the world's most depraved child predators, Australian Peter Gerard Scully, was sentenced to life in jail for child rape and human trafficking.
However, in the long legal battle before his sentencing in The Philippines, the former Melbourne property developer used the Serious Overseas Criminal Matters Scheme to defend himself.
Now, Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has seized control of the scheme and applied new restrictions.
From tomorrow, the scheme will only help Aussies facing the death penalty overseas and it will look at applicant's criminal history and the circumstances under which the applicant left Australia.
The Federal Attorney-General will make the ultimate decision on each application.
"I was concerned that, over time, the scheme had failed to meet community standards and expectations, and the funding provided to Peter Scully, as highlighted recently, was a clear demonstration of that," Mr Porter told The Australian.
Scully was found guilty of one count of human trafficking and five counts of rape by sexual assault in the Philippines and he reportedly faces further charges in 50 other cases.
The 55-year-old's remaining charges include child murder, torture and abuse cases against children as young as 12 months old.
They include abuse of two young girls, who Scully allegedly made dig their own graves and filmed them being raped.
Scully is also alleged to have sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl before strangling her and burying her body in a grave under a house he was renting in the southern Philippines city of Surigao.
It is alleged he was filming videos of the attacks and selling them online to customers around the world for up to $10,000 a view.
However, he is unlikely to be able to access more legal aid to defend himself against the numerous charges because of the tougher new rules.
Mr Porter had flagged the change in March following reports Scully was awarded $525,000 to help with his legal costs.
Scully fled to Cagayan de Oro on the island of Mindanao from Melbourne in 2011 after being charged with fraud.
He allegedly ran an international paedophile ring that raped, tortured and murdered children.
He has been sentenced to life in prison, along with his former girlfriend and accomplice, Carme Ann Alvarez.