Paedophile back behind bars over graphic searches online

Guilty: Psychiatrists put Sheryl Irwin's risk of sexual re-offending in the highest category while assessing her in 2013 for the NSW Supreme Court.
Guilty: Psychiatrists put Sheryl Irwin's risk of sexual re-offending in the highest category while assessing her in 2013 for the NSW Supreme Court.

A high-risk paedophile, who once admitted to carrying a "Santa suit" around to facilitate easier access to children, is back behind bars after breaching an extended supervision order by searching for graphic child pornography on the internet.

Scott Lee Irwin, who identifies as transgender and now goes by the name Sheryl Irwin, will front Wollongong Local Court on Friday for sentencing following her* arrest at a home in Warilla on Tuesday morning.

Irwin was only released from her most recent stint in custody on July 23 but returned to old habits within three weeks, with mobile phone records showing she had been looking at child pornography almost daily from mid-August.

This was despite being on a strict extended supervision order (ESO), imposed on her by the NSW Supreme Court in 2014 after she was deemed "too high risk" for authorities not to closely monitor her.

Among the 64 conditions of the order, which covers everything from Irwin's pre-approved living arrangements to who she is allowed to associate with in the community, is one that prohibits her from accessing the internet to view any type of pornography.

However, court documents said Irwin has breached the ESO eight times since 2014, including for failing to disclose relationships, deleting mobile records, looking up porn, associating with other known sex offenders and - most alarmingly - contacting the owner of a child care centre.

The court heard Irwin was given written approval by her supervising officer on August 21 to access six websites: GMail, My Gov, ANZ, eBay, West Tigers and NRL.com.

However, when Irwin showed her mobile to the same officer eight days later complaining about damage to the screen, the officer discovered multiple unauthorised apps on the phone, along with dubious web searches, including one looking for information on American billionaire and convicted paedophile, Jeffrey Epstein.

A further search of the phone by police revealed Irwin had been looking up child pornography almost every day for the past three weeks.

The names and descriptions of the websites, pictures and videos accessed are too graphic to repeat, but all featured references to "gay" material showing "young boys".

Record of conviction

Irwin's personal background and her history of offending are detailed in a judgement handed down in the NSW Supreme Court in 2014 when Justice Christine Adamson imposed the ESO.

It reveals Irwin suffers from a significant intellectual disability, was abused by her mother's various partners during childhood (she never knew her father) and left home at 15 to live in refuges and at times, on the street. She has never lived anywhere for more than six months, and never held down jobs for more than a few months.

Her first paedophilic offence was in 1997, when she groped a 10-year-old boy while on a trip to the beach with his family.

In late 1999, Irwin repeatedly molested an 11-year-old boy who came to her house to watch TV, then in 2000 she fondled a six-year-old boy while working as a door-to-door salesman.

The court heard Irwin had tried to complete multiple treatment programs during her time in custody but had been kicked out of all of them for poor behaviour.

She was released from custody in 2004 and went to the Northern Territory where more crimes were committed (the details of those offences were not provided to the court).

She returned to NSW in 2008 and soon after was discovered in possession of child pornography.

Of concern, police also located two Santa suits, "Santa for Hire" signs and about 90 lollies. Irwin admitted to previously carrying the suits in her car to facilitate access to children. Further offences occurred in 2011 and 2013, prompting the ESO order to be put in place upon Irwin's release from custody in February 2014.

Irwin's sexual offending history is chronic in terms of persistence over the life span, periods of escalated offending frequency and early onset

Dr Patrick Sheehan, forensic psychologist

Expert evidence

Three forensic psychiatrists appointed by the Supreme Court to examine Irwin in late 2013 all concluded she presented a high risk of committing further serious sex offences.

Dr Patrick Sheehan said Irwin scored an "unusually high" 11 out of 12 on a commonly used risk assessment test for sexual offenders, placing her in the high risk category relative to other male sex offenders.

Dr Sheehan noted Irwin's time behind bars had also been far from offence-free: in the year prior to her release, she had been reported to prison staff for sexually touching other inmates, issuing a general invitation for sex in the prison yard, asking to sniff another prisoner's underwear and having sex with another inmate who was also a sex offender.

At one stage, Irwin told Dr Sheehan she thought about sex all day and masturbated up to 10 times a day, leading Dr Sheehan in part to make the following assessment: "Irwin's sexual offending history is chronic in terms of persistence over the life span, periods of escalated offending frequency and early onset."

He went on to say "there is no evidence of physical coercion, but grooming behaviours are indicated, such as buying gifts, making acquaintance with the victim's parents, misrepresenting his behaviours to gain victim compliance."

*The pronouns 'she' and 'her' have been used to respect Irwin's identity as a transgender person.

This story Paedophile back behind bars over graphic searches online first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.