A recently-convicted child sex offender has been suspended from working at a Canberra clothes retailer after the company said the man failed to inform it of his criminal record until two months into the job.
The suspension of Royston Barker, now in his late 20s, came days after his victim was left distressed when she spotted him serving customers at the G-Star Raw store, in the shopping centre where he had groomed her from age 13.
The encounter led Victims of Crime Commissioner John Hinchey to seek assurances of safety from the ACT Corrective Services, while a second retailer in the Canberra Centre, Rebel Sport, has launched a review into Barker's separate employment with it.
Barker was given a three-year good behaviour order by the ACT Supreme Court in April after he pleaded guilty to four charges connected with the use of the victim - then aged 15 and 16 - for the production of child pornography, and was found guilty of another seven charges which related to sexual intercourse and acts of indecency with the victim when she was 15.
Aged 20 when he met the victim and began what became a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship, Barker until recently had been living in Queensland for several years.
A spokesman for Denim Enterprises, the franchise retail partner for G-Star Australia, said Barker had started working at its Civic store two months ago, but had informed the company of his convictions - which place him on the Child Sex Offenders Register for life - only on Thursday, after the victim's mother approached The Sunday Canberra Times.
"He has been suspended immediately pending an investigation by his employer," the spokesman said.
The victim, now an adult, said the sight of Barker last weekend was "completely distressing".
"I understand I can't control where he lives and works, but it is incredibly unsettling that he is working in the same environment where he groomed me, and that's not a violation of the sex offender register," she said.
In 2006 the two had met - and talked on more than 10 occasions - at a separate clothes retailer in the Canberra Centre where Barker was then working, the victim said.
Being placed on the Child Sex Offenders Register prohibits an offender from a long list of "child-related employment", but there is no reference to retail stores generally. Police can seek a prohibition order to prevent other conduct, including employment, which may endanger a person's sexual safety.
Reporting obligations require a registered offender to keep police informed of their residence, employer and the address of each premises where they work, and of contact with children.
It is not known whether these conditions had been met. An ACT Policing spokesman said the territory had a strict system of reporting and monitoring for registered offenders, but police were legally prevented from disclosing information regarding one.
Commissioner Hinchey said the victim was not registered on the ACT Victims Register - which allows victims to receive basic information about their offender - and he would help her sign up if she chose.
"I would also be asking ACT Corrective Services to ensure that the [offender] is being actively supervised with appropriate measures in place to address any risk that might be identified," he said.
Mr Hinchey said sentencing laws allowed the Director-General of the Justice and Community Safety Directorate to decide if a registered victim was informed of details such as the state or territory the offender resided.
In his sentence, Justice John Burns said he was satisfied Barker was informed of the victim's correct age within weeks of their meeting. He said that Barker was unlikely to reoffend and had suffered anxiety and depression as a result of charges being laid.
The victim's mother said the lack of restrictions on offenders working in the related retail outlets was concerning.
“In the clothing store, people take their clothes off, and the other thing is adolescent girls go to shops all the time without parental supervision," she said.
Super Retail Group, owner of Rebel Sport, did not directly answer whether it knew of Barker's conviction when he began work with it at what the victim said was two of its stores, in Civic and Belconnen, but said in a statement on Friday that stores undertake candidate screening and selection processes to ensure customers have a safe and pleasant experience.
"In light of this situation, we will undertake an immediate review and appropriate action will be taken to ensure the continued safety and privacy of our customers and team,” the statement said.
Barker was unable to be reached for comment.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.