If released an expert fears Stephen Robert Banwell might find a vulnerable woman and sexually assault her.
If released an expert fears Stephen Robert Banwell might find a vulnerable woman and sexually assault her.

Christmas Day rapist too risky to release

A RAPIST who first offended when he was a teenager more than 40 years ago will be held behind bars indefinitely.

The only way to protect the community from Stephen Robert Banwell, 59, is to keep him in prison, the Brisbane Supreme Court has found.

Banwell was due to be released from custody next week after serving nine years in jail for drugging and raping a woman in his house in Bundaberg early on Christmas Day in 2000.

The woman, visiting her son in Bundy for Christmas, had responded to an advertisement Banwell placed online offering free accommodation.

He pleaded guilty in 2013 to those charges, the most recent in his lengthy history of sexual offences against women.

If released, Banwell might find a vulnerable woman and sexually assault her, psychiatrist Dr Michael Beech warned in a report.

According to Dr Beech, Banwell will "be cunning or predatory in his offending and his victim may be lulled by his apparent intellectual impairment and not recognise the guile that he is using".

Banwell was first convicted in the Penrith Children's Court when he was 15 for indecently assaulting an assistant matron at an institution, possibly a youth detention centre, where he was living.

He followed her into a laundry, placed an arm around her neck and threatened to kill her with a piece of jagged glass.

Two years later he was convicted of assaulting a woman by trying to bite her around the face and shoulders while getting on top of her.

He pleaded guilty in 1987 in a Rockhampton court to raping a 15-year-old hitchhiker twice. Banwell told the victim he had no control of his sexual urges.

Nearly 20 years later, Banwell was arrested for indecent assault but failed to appear in court after being given bail.

He remained at large for six years before being caught. He later pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years jail.

In response to an application by the Attorney-General, Justice Soraya Ryan this week ordered Banwell to remain behind bars indefinitely.

She said Banwell was an untreated sexual offender who had been disruptive during group psychological programs while in custody.

He should be assessed as to whether he could be treated individually before the indefinite detention order was reviewed, according to Justice Ryan.


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