ACT News


Belconnen library child molester to serve extra three years minimum jail

A man who molested a three-year-old girl after she wandered away from her mother in Belconnen library will serve a minimum of an extra three years in prison after a successful appeal by prosecutors.

Shane Williams, 40, of Campbell, was originally sentenced to 7½ years imprisonment for the shocking sexual assault of the girl in 2013, and for a racist assault in late 2012.

The sentence, which gave Williams an earliest release date of March 2018, outraged many people and led to a protest, a campaign by online group Canberra Mums, and a petition signed by 13,000 people, which was handed to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher, calling for tougher laws to protect children.

Williams was a serial child sex offender who was on bail, and who already had five convictions, in September last year, when his latest crime was committed. 

He was walking to a police station, where he was obliged to report regularly, and went into Belconnen Library to use the toilet. 

A three-year-old girl came up to Williams in a friendly manner, having wandered from where her mother was using a computer nearby.


Williams encouraged her to sit down with him, before sexually assaulting her. The child's mother came looking for her daughter and discovered Williams with the girl. She screamed and Williams ran off.

He was arrested later and made a full admission. He was drunk and high on drugs at the time of the offence. He had a history of recidivism. Previous victims included a six-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a 10-year-old. His last conviction before the 2013 assault was in 2009.

Prosecutors appealed the 7½ year sentence, arguing it was manifestly inadequate. The appeal was allowed by the ACT Court of Appeal on Monday, which set aside Williams' original sentence. 

A full bench of the court resentenced Williams to 9½ years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 7½ years. The earliest he can be released is March 2021. 

Williams himself suffered an "undeniably dysfunctional" background, the court said. He was sexually abused as a child, drank alcohol heavily from the age of 12, and used cannabis from 10. 

His alcoholic father beat him as a child, and often left Williams and his sibling to fend for themselves for days while he drank. However, even set against Williams' background of neglect and abuse, the Court of Appeal found the 7½-year sentence was manifestly inadequate.

Justice Hilary Penfold, Justice Richard Refshauge and Justice John Gilmour  pointed to the fact Williams was on bail and was on his way to report to police as a child sex offender.

They also highlighted the gravity of the offence, his prior record, continual re-offending, bleak prospects for rehabilitation, and the importance of protecting the community.