By Margaret Maccoll
Outrage at the possibility a convicted murderer and rapist of a Noosa schoolgirl may be released on parole has led tens of thousands to sign a petition to the Queensland Parole Board to keep him in prison.
When news broke that Barrie John Watts, who abducted, tortured, raped and murdered 12 year old Sian Kingi in 1987 had applied for parole community members took to social media to voice their anger and set up petitions of protest.
The former Sunshine Beach State High School student was cycling her bike home through Pinaroo Park at Noosa Junction when Watts and his then wife, mother-of-six Valmae Beck, lured the girl to help look for a lost dog before abducting her in a Holden Kingswood station wagon.
The crime shocked the community and the country 35 years ago.
Beck and Watts were both sentenced to life imprisonment but Beck died in 2008.
Ninderry MP Dan Purdie said he had been assisting his constituents, the Kingi family, to make submissions against the killer’s release since they became aware Watts had applied for parole last November.
“The Kingi’s are very private,“ he said. “They are struggling with all of this coming up again and going through this again.
“I’ve been guided by the family every step of the way.“
Mr Purdie said when news of Watts parole application recently became public he was inundated with emails from Sian’s former school friends and teachers asking what they could do.
We decided to collectively launch a petition, he said.
Within three days more than 47,000 people had added their signatures to the Sign for Sian petition which Mr Purdie plans to table in Parliament next Wednesday.
“The parole board is an independent body. You’d hope they’d make a decision in the best interests of the community,“ Mr Purdie said.
He said since November many people had submitted letters to the parole board through the appropriate channels and the petition clearly shows the community does not support this parole.
Mr Purdie urged people to sign the petition to support the family and our community’s campaign to ensure Watts, and others like him, remain behind bars for life.
Former Police Commissioner Bob Atkinson who was an investigating officer in Noosa at the time of the crime has said some offenders lose the right to ever be reintroduced back into society.
“Barrie Watts is one of those offenders,“ Mr Purdie said.
Mr Purdie said Watts application could come before the parole board at any time.
He said the board was supposed to hear matters within three months of application but because of COVID they had a backlog.
If Watts is granted parole the board will notify the victim’s family only a couple days before the release date and review the decision only if “new information“ is put forward, Mr Purdie said.
To sign the petition to show your support to the family and to send a clear message to the Queensland Parole Board that in relation to Barrie Watts, life means life visit https://www.change.org/p/queensland-government-sign-for-sian