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'I'm not sorry': Hinch walks free from jail

Broadcaster Derryn Hinch finishes his 50-day prison sentence, after being found guilty of breaking a suppression order in the Jill Meagher case and failing to pay his $100,000 fine.

PT0M59S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-34azo 620 349

A shaved and shaken Derryn Hinch has emerged from prison after spending 50 nights locked up for failing to pay a fine incurred after breaching a suppression order about Melbourne woman Jill Meagher’s killer.

The Seven Network personality was released from Langi Kal Kal jail in Trawalla, about 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, just after 8am on Friday.

In January, Hinch, 70, was ordered to pay the $100,000 contempt of court fine – or face 50 days in jail – with the broadcaster vowing to do the time, saying his decision was based "on principle".

Derryn Hinch

Derryn Hinch leaves prison after a 50-day stay - famous beard gone. Photo: Channel Seven

On his last full day in prison, a post from Hinch’s Twitter read: "Feels like something out of Les Mis. One More Day!  Prisoner 44146".

Talking to Channel Seven’s Sunrise outside jail, Hinch admitted he was, ‘‘a bit emotional, a bit shaken’’.

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Asked if he was harassed by other prisoners, Hinch said, ‘‘for the first few days, because I had shaved the beard, nobody really knew who I was’’.

‘‘But, yeah, the guards and other guys treated me pretty well but it was no picnic,’’ he said. ‘‘You are talking strip searches, bend over the whole lot.

‘‘And to wake up on your 70th birthday and have a guard saying happy birthday, it was tough.’’

Hinch served much of his sentence in 23-hour lockdown in maximum security, in accordance with his wishes after he said he was worried for his safety and health.

Hinch said he spent his time working on his campaign, Protect Our Children, that calls for a public sex offenders register.

The former radio star said that in Australia ‘‘the rights of convicted sex offenders seem to take precedence over victims’ rights’’.

‘‘Especially with paedophiles,’’ Hinch said. ‘‘Serial sex offenders have their names, photos and addresses, suppressed by the courts on release.

‘‘Unlike Megan’s Law in the United States, communities have no knowledge as to who they are or where they are. A public register is a right and a national duty that is long overdue.’’

The petition has attracted more than 42,600 signatures to date.

‘‘I feel justified [for choosing to go to prison],’’ he said on Friday. ‘‘I’ve come out of a place [where] 93 per cent are sex offenders.

‘‘I know what these men look like, but when they come out you won’t.’’

Hinch said he was now living on ‘‘bonus time’’ and that he would devote it to making sure the sex offenders register came to fruition.

He also said since Jill Meagher’s murder and subsequent toughening up of parole laws, ‘‘it has made a real difference.’’

‘‘Blokes aren’t just going out minimum time now,’’ he said. ‘‘It is a lot tougher and everyone [inside] is talking about doing minimum plus.’’ 

Hinch was found guilty of contempt for breaching a suppression order made by Victorian Supreme Court Justice Geoffrey Nettle.

In sentencing Hinch in October, Victorian Supreme Court Justice Stephen Kaye said the former broadcaster's web posts had been populist and self-serving.

"Your conduct was grossly irresponsible," Justice Kaye told Hinch.

"Although you thought you knew better than Justice Nettle, clearly you did not."

It was Hinch's sixth conviction for contempt of court or related offences, a record which Justice Kaye said was disgraceful.

Hinch apologised at the time, but later rescinded his comments, saying recent cases had prompted him to send a message to the judiciary.

"I'll go to jail for 50 days to draw attention to all the suspended sentences for crimes of violence and child pornography, for the obscenely short sentences given to king-hit killers," he said.

Hinch said he was unimpressed with the fact former magistrate Simon Cooper had avoided jail, despite pleading guilty to seven counts of indecent assault committed in the 1980s.

Hinch spent 12 days in jail in 1987 for contempt of court after he revealed pedophile priest Michael Glennon's prior conviction while a trial was pending.

He narrowly escaped jail in 2011, and instead was sentenced to five months' home detention in 2011 after publishing the suppressed identities of sex offenders.

The magistrate, Charlie Rozencwajg, told him he would have had no hesitation in sending Hinch to jail had it not been for the broadcaster's poor health, having just received a liver transplant.