Disgraced Hey Dad! actor and convicted child sex offender Robert Hughes will be released from jail on parole in two weeks.
The NSW State Parole Authority on Thursday announced its decision after conducting a public hearing for Hughes, who starred as Martin Kelly in the TV comedy from 1987 to 1994.
Hughes, 73, was sentenced in 2014 to a maximum 10 years and nine months in prison, which is due to expire in January 2025.
He was jailed after a jury found him guilty of 10 charges relating to sexual and indecent acts perpetrated on four young girls aged between seven and 15 in the 1980s and 1990s.
Disgraced Hey Dad! actor and convicted child sex offender Robert Hughes will be released from jail on parole after multiple failed attempts
‘Parole is granted. The offender is to be released not later than June 14, 2022,’ the parole authority said on Thursday.
‘The key reasons for release were said to be his below average risk of committing sex offences, his ineligibility for sex offender programs together with his family support and accommodation in the UK.’
The parole authority noted arguments against his parole included his ‘continuing to deny the offences; the support of his wife in his denial; the fact that he is untreated; he will not be supervised; his denials will not be challenged, and his sexual offending will not be addressed.’
Hughes’ former on-screen daughter and victim Sarah Monahan was present for the Parramatta parole hearing last week and said she wanted the child sex offender to know she was present.
‘He’s an old man and he’s frail but they don’t change, and he’s a denier, he still thinks he hasn’t done anything.’
The parole authority noted Hughes continued to ‘categorically deny’ committing all of his crimes, but still assessed him as medium-low risk of reoffending.
‘He demonstrates no insight and apportions blame to the victims. Poor victim empathy is said not to increase his risk of sexual recidivism,’ it said.
Hughes starred as Martin Kelly (second from left) in the TV comedy from 1987-1994
While allegations against Hughes were raised in the 1990s, it took a paid television interview by Ms Monahan in 2010 to spark a broad police investigation into claims of sexual misconduct by the actor.
His victims included a family friend, friends of his daughter, and a Ms Monahan, who was a child actress who starred with him on Hey Dad!
Hughes made his third attempt at parole following two failed attempts. His minimum sentence of six years made him eligible for parole in April 2020.
Judge Peter Zahra, who died suddenly last month, handed down the sentence with strong condemnation against Hughes.
‘He engaged in brazen predatory behaviour; he planned and orchestrated the occasions when the conduct occurred. His conduct was persistent and calculated,’ he said.
His former on-screen daughter and victim Sarah Monahan (pictured) was present for the Parramatta parole hearing last week and said she wanted the child sex offender to know she was present
Hughes will live with his wife Robyn Gardiner after he is deported to the UK, where she will keep him away from children when unsupervised.
‘The offender continues to retain the support of family members who reside in the United Kingdom,’ the authority wrote in its decision.
‘The offender’s wife expressed her intention to continue to provide emotional support upon his release.
‘Additionally, she advised that she has arranged post release accommodation for the offender to reside with her upon his eventual return to London.
‘Whilst she believes in his innocence, she expressed her intention to ensure that the offender does not have unsupervised contact with children.
‘She advised that she intends to encourage him to engage in psychological counselling.’
A psychologist found Hughes continued to deny his crimes, and that he was at risk of sexual deviancy.
He will be deported to the UK where he will live with his wife Robyn Gardiner (pictured together)
He renounced his Australian citizenship, meaning he would be deported to the UK upon release, where he would not be supervised in the community or compelled to comply with parole conditions.
But Hughes’ legal aid lawyer, Hannah Bruce, argued her client was low risk of sexual reoffending, and that he would be subject to ‘notification orders’ in the UK.
Ms Bruce said Interpol inquiries had confirmed it was not a situation where Hughes would be ‘completely unmonitored’ in the UK.
Instead, Hughes will be required to report to police within three days of his return to the UK, and once a year from then on and within three days of changing his details.
He will be required to provide passport and banking details and must notify police of any intention to travel out of the UK.
Hughes must also provide details of where he lives and where he regularly stays if different to his home address.
‘There is a requirement to notify police if he going to stay (for a period of at least 12 hours) at a household where a child is present,’ the parole authority noted.