MEDIA RELEASE - SA Introduces Carly's Law

Murdered South Australian teenager Carly Ryan will soon have her legacy enshrined in legislation, with a Bill for Carly’s Law being introduced into State Parliament today.

Following a tireless campaign at state and federal level, the new SA Government agreed to make a move on the proposal put to them by Carly’s mum, Sonya Ryan. Ms Ryan, who is also the CEO and Founder of harm-prevention charity the Carly Ryan Foundation, has been lobbying for SA to introduce the original version of Carly’s Law which makes it illegal for a person to lie about their age to a child and then attempt to meet that child.

 “Knowing our home state will soon have a law named after my beautiful daughter that will help police catch predators before they harm children, is an indescribable feeling,” Ms Ryan said.

“When we met with Attorney-General Vickie Chapman a fortnight ago, she immediately saw the merit in Carly’s Law and I’m grateful to her for moving quickly and introducing it today.

“We know from our work with police they’re eager for a law that allows them to arrest a predator before a child is groomed or procured for sex because by that stage, harm has occurred.“Carly’s Law in SA will allow police to intervene even sooner to prevent harm, which is the mission of the Carly Ryan Foundation.”

Last year, following the 10-year anniversary of Carly’s murder, the Federal Government agreed to insert a version of Carly’s Law into the Commonwealth Criminal Code. This year on the 11th anniversary, which coincided with the SA election, the Carly Ryan Foundation renewed its push for Carly’s Law to be introduced in its home jurisdiction.

Garry Newman, the 50-year-old paedophile who murdered 15-year-old Carly in 2007 south of Adelaide, posed as an 18-year-old musician from Melbourne to deceive her for 18 months through online contact and phone calls. Newman’s deceptive actions of lying about his age to Carly and pretending to be someone other than who he was, which ultimately led to Carly’s death, are not a crime under existing state law.

At a Commonwealth level, while Carly’s Law is broad in that acts in preparation to cause harm or engage in sexual activity with a child is outlawed, including lying about age, it requires police prove there is intent to commit harm. Alleged offenders throughout the country have been charged with Carly’s Law since it passed parliament on June 15, 2017, with a WA man recently pleading guilty to the charge. However, feedback from police is the SA legislation would enable them to intervene even sooner.  

“We don’t want police to be burdened with the need to prove intent to harm – we want them to be able to act as soon as possible,” Ms Ryan said. “Police will now have a choice to use the Commonwealth law or State law depending on the nature of the offending and the evidence they’ve gathered. I’m so grateful my daughter’s legacy is now part of the child exploitation team’s toolkit for intercepting vile predators.”

“There is absolutely no reason for an adult to lie about their age to a child and then attempt to meet that child – none. So we look forward to the swift passage of the Dishonest Communication With Children Bill through the SA Parliament and our state leading the way in plugging gaps in the law to help protect our children.”