Roger David Cheney has been in prison for 27 years. The state wants to keep him there.
Roger David Cheney has been in prison for 27 years. The state wants to keep him there.

Child rapist’s bid for freedom

A violent child rapist who has been in jail since the early 1990s but never admitted his crimes should stay locked up for another two years, a court has heard.

Roger David Cheney, 62, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after being found guilty of raping an eight-year-old and ten-year-old girl on separate occasions in 1993.

He attacked the girls in their beds during the night and sexually assaulted them, whispering that his name was "Jimmy" and they shouldn't tell anyone what had happened.

At the time, he was on bail for the violent attempted sexual assault of an adult woman, which later earned him a conviction.

Cheney has now served his sentence, but the NSW government has applied for a continuing detention order (CDO) to keep him in prison, saying he presents too great a risk to be released.

The fact he continues to deny the 1993 rapes was a central factor in a hearing on Wednesday before Justice Peter Garling in the Supreme Court.

Cheney, bald and wearing prison greens, watched via video link from Long Bay prison as psychologists testified about his risk to the community.

Barrister Chris McGorey, acting for the state of NSW, said the ramifications would be "significant and grave" if Cheney reoffended. He argued that even strict supervision, including an electronic monitoring anklet, would not be enough to ameliorate the risk.

Justice Garling quizzed the barrister on Cheney's custodial record, describing him as "model prisoner" and asking: "What more do you say he could have possibly done?"

There were certain offender programs Cheney had not completed, and he continued to deny the offences, Mr McGorey said.

He admitted at least one of the courses was not a viable option and said the programs would be of limited benefit to Cheney, mostly useful for staff trying to understand his motivations.

But the central question was the risk presented by Cheney, not whether he had done everything right while in prison, Mr McGorey added.

Barrister Sharyn Hall, acting for Cheney, pointed to evidence from psychologist Richard Parker, saying: "The authorities have had 27 years to learn what they could from Mr Cheney, and in his opinion they were not going to learn a whole lot more in two to three years."

Dr Parker told the court he saw Cheney fortnightly in custody and believed he had developed insight into his own thinking, which he could apply to life outside custody.

Cheney had expressed a wish to be a law-abiding citizen on release, the court heard.

His near-perfect custodial record "can't be a fluke", Ms Hall argued, adding that Justice Garling could be satisfied Cheney's high risk of reoffending could be managed with the "very substantial and intrusive" conditions of supervision.

Justice Garling pointed out that knowing why Cheney had committed the crimes - thus far impossible because he denies them - would assist in diminishing risk.

"We don't know whether he is, to put it in the vernacular, simply an evil man who will always conduct himself in this way," he said.

Dr Parker's treatment had laid a "firm foundation" in seeking to address Cheney's general disregard for the law, Ms Hall said.

A statement from one of Cheney's victims in the 1993 attacks was also handed to the judge.

If Justice Garling declines to grant a CDO, it is agreed Cheney would require strict supervisory conditions on his release.

Justice Garling reserved his decision.

*For 24-hour sexual violence support call the national hotline 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or MensLine on 1800 600 636.


Originally published as Child rapist's bid for freedom