Runaway rapist who fled WA unlikely to face punishment for supervision order breach

Broome 6725

A man who violently raped two backpackers in Broome appears likely to go unpunished for breaching an order meant to supervise his behaviour after his release from prison.

Key points:

  • Convicted rapist David Gundari breached a supervision order and went on the run from WA into the Northern Territory
  • There is a warrant out in WA for Gundari’s arrest, but police say further action will only be taken if he returns to the state
  • Concerns have been raised that under-resourcing is hampering the ability to enforce the orders

David Gundari served 12 years behind bars after bashing and raping the women in separate attacks in 2006 that terrified WA’s Kimberley community.

One of his victims suffered a fractured jaw, eye socket, and cheekbone, while the other had teeth knocked out and received cuts to her head.

Gundari was released from prison under a post-sentence supervision order (PSSO) in late 2018, despite significant concerns about his lack of effective treatment while in jail.

Introduced by WA’s then Liberal-National government in 2017, PSSOs are aimed at preventing re-offending and protecting the community.

The independent Prisoner Review Board makes the decision to place an offender on an order, which lasts for two years and imposes extended supervision beyond their served prison term.

The level of supervision is also determined by the board and offenders are subject to various conditions.

Management of offenders, based on their conditions, is the responsibility of Corrective Services Community Corrections Officers, and breaching an order can result in up to three years in jail.

Violent rapist fled to the NT


David Gundari failed to appear in Wyndham Magistrates Court in October (ABC Kimberley: Vanessa Mills)

Gundari, 45, was due before Wyndham Magistrate’s Court in October last year, accused of breaching his PSSO, but failed to appear.

A week later, he was arrested in the Northern Territory town of Katherine, where he was charged with new offences, including engaging in violent conduct.

Gundari was found guilty and jailed for nine weeks, before being released from prison in Darwin on January 17.

There were no public warnings issued by authorities during the time Gundari was on the run.

No active pursuit by WA Police

WA Police confirm there was a warrant out for Gundari’s arrest and he had been charged over the breach.

A spokesperson said the outstanding warrant meant an alert had been put on his name, but they would only deal with him if and when he crossed the border.

“As per normal warrant issues, if he enters Western Australia and police become aware of his whereabouts, he will be arrested,” the spokesperson said.

Murdoch University law lecturer Lorraine Finlay said all PSSO breaches needed to be treated seriously.

She said she wanted to see Gundari sentenced in WA.

“It is important that when these orders are breached there are consequences and it isn’t just swept away, due to either time elapsing or the person being in another jurisdiction,” she said.

“If we’re just going to ignore breaches of the orders, well, why bother having them.”

Community ‘has a right to be concerned’

Lorraine Finlay said what had happened with Gundari was an example of the PSSO system failing to deliver.

“We have a convicted violent rapist, who the Prisoner Review Board said was at medium to high risk of re-offending,” Ms Finlay said.

“He not only breached his post-sentence supervision order, but he went on the run.”

Ms Finlay acknowledged monitoring offenders was a complex undertaking, especially in remote areas, but argued the Gundari case highlighted enforcement issues due to insufficient resourcing.


Legal academic Lorraine Finlay says the Post Sentence Supervision Order regime seems to be lacking. (Supplied: Lorraine Finlay)

“I don’t underestimate the challenges in this area, because we are dealing with people who have complex problems,” she said.

“People who are often difficult to manage and we’re dealing with a lack of resources in the area.

“It’s not good enough to simply have the law in place, you actually have to enforce the law.

“The community, I think, has a right to be concerned that a system that is in place to protect them doesn’t seem to be implemented properly and seems to be lacking.”

The latest available statistics, from mid-2019, show there are there 141 offenders on PSSOs in WA.

“That’s actually an increase of 70 per cent over the previous year,” Ms Finlay said.

“You actually need to put the resources behind them to make sure that people who are on these orders are properly supervised.”

The office of WA Minister for Corrective Services Fran Logan declined to provide a response.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said funding had been received to boost community corrections resources, including hiring 48 new officers.

Four of the new officers were located in the Kimberley region.

Caseload pressures

Rikki Hendon, branch secretary of the Community Public Sector Union and Civil Service Association, said the additional officers hired in 2019 were welcome but represented “a drop in the ocean.”


Union Branch Secretary Rikki Hendon says workload pressures for Community Corrections Officers are an ongoing issue. (Supplied: CPSU/CSA.)

“Overall, our Community Corrections Officers are under-resourced,” she said.

“We have a department trying to monitor more people, many of whom have very complex histories of offending, with less staff.”

Ms Hendon said her organisation was concerned by the caseload facing Community Corrections Officers and that resignations occurring due to workload pressure were robbing the system of talent.

“This issue now requires additional funding to train up and retain officers who could supervise clients with confidence, attain the best rehabilitative outcomes and keep the community safe,” she said.

“Feedback from union members suggest amendments to the relevant PSSO legislation could improve the ability of Department of Justice staff to intervene with clients earlier.

“Any amendments which could encourage better collaboration within the Department of Justice and WA police could also improve the system.”

Legislative change underway

Proposed legislation currently before WA’s Upper House aims to close some constitutionally contentious areas of the PSSO regime.

It will also open up the provisions of the Dangerous Sexual Offenders Act to a wider range of offenders, including murderers, and establish a High-Risk Offenders Board to oversee them.

Ms Findlay says it will be interesting to see if the changes help the system work more effectively.

“Whether it works in practice remains to be seen,” she said.


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