Police ignored mother's paedophile warning
On Sunday, 3 News revealed a man convicted of child molestation in Australia had been welcomed into the Whakatane Salvation Army and assaulted a six-year-old girl.
We've now learned the Australian mother of his victims warned New Zealand police Trevor Hall would re-offend, and was mistakenly told he couldn't be red-flagged here.
When Hall lived with his niece and her children in Queensland back in 1999, he was part of the family – until he shattered their trust.
"My daughter said Uncle Trevor was naughty to her and did not nice things," says the children's mother, who cannot be named.
Some months later Hall pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a four-year-old girl and nine-year-old boy.
When he was released from prison and deported to New Zealand in 2001, the mother says she phoned Auckland Central Police Station in desperation.
"I can tell you I tried everything in my power to have him listed as a sex offender when he was deported back to New Zealand, and was told by every person I spoke to that there was no place that he could be marked as a person to be watched."
As she predicted Hall struck again, indecently assaulting a six-year-old girl he'd met through the Salvation Army in Whakatane.
Police would not be interviewed, but in a statement admitted the mother was wrongly advised, and that information from members of the public about people with serious foreign convictions could and should be noted.
In fact, Hall's convictions had been registered when he was deported, but the Salvation Army didn't check with police, leaving a little girl vulnerable.
Anya Goodwin wrote a book, Say No To Bottom Games, to help teach families about paedophiles.
"With children, what happens is they try to gain their trust," she says. "They often will find a vulnerable family… taking kids to school, babysitting, looking after them, coaching them on a team, something like that."
Ms Goodwin's book teaches children to trust their instincts, and the difference between what she calls "snaky secrets" and "happy surprises" – lessons needed to stop predators like Hall.