Content warning: This article includes mentions of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA).
A grandmother-of-seven has been charged and hit with a hefty fine after going to great lengths to expose a convicted paedophile who moved to her community.
Maxine Davey held up signs reading, ‘Keep children safe from peodophiles (sic)’, along a busy stretch of road to warn residents of the Central Queensland neighbourhood of Calliope that the man had moved there after being released from prison.
However, the 59-year-old landed in hot water when she filmed the outside of the man’s home and shared the footage – which included vision of his property and vehicles that could be identified – on Facebook, prompting angry locals to comment and make threats.
Ms Davey was found guilty of one count of unlawful stalking, which comes with a potential five-year jail term.
“I just wanted to hold up a sign, publicise the fact that other parents (need) to be aware, but then I stepped over the line and broke the law,” she told A Current Affair.
“I crossed the line by posting [the video]. I posted it and it was online for two hours and 35 minutes before I quickly removed it.
“I was shocked, I was sorry. I didn’t know at the time I’d broken the law, but obviously [the police] told me.”
Ms Davey was able to avoid prison time after the magistrate ruled that she pay a $2200 fine instead. Her phone was also confiscated and a conviction was recorded.
“I’m really devastated by it all,” Ms Davey said of the conviction. “I’ve never considered myself a criminal and I’ll have this charge against me for the rest of my life.”
Since the legal action, sexual assault survivors who were victims of the man Ms Davey exposed have rallied behind her, saying she should be treated as a “hero”, not a criminal.
“It is absolutely ridiculous how the justice system works. She shouldn’t be put through this. This is not fair,” one victim said.
“I believe she is honestly like a hero. It absolutely breaks my heart that she’s trying to do the right thing (as) a human and she’s absolutely being torn apart for it,” another victim said.
The 41-year-old was convicted of rape and multiple counts of indecent treatment of children under the age of 16 and sentenced to two years and nine months of jail time last year.
According to the Queensland Government’s website, confidential details about a sex offender can be released by the chief executive of Corrective Services when individual community members need to know information about the offender, such as their employment.
Unlike in the US, where Megan’s Law requires police to release information about registered sex offenders to the public, individuals who request confidential information in Australia must sign a confidentiality agreement first.
If you or someone you know is in need of support as a result of sexual assault or child sexual abuse, contact the Blue Knot Helpline and Redress Support Service on 1300 657 380, or LifeLine on 13 11 14 for immediate support.
This article first appeared on OverSixty.