A former Hey Dad! cast member and convicted pedophile has won his bid for freedom and will be deported back to the UK.
Convicted pedophile and ex-Australian TV star Robert Hughes will be released from prison and deported to the UK by Border Force officials.
The State Parole Authority announced the decision for the inmate on Thursday, with the 73-year-old former star of the sitcom Hey Dad! to be escorted to Sydney airport no later than June 14 after his Australian citizenship was renounced and the federal government cancelled his residency visa.
Hughes was sentenced to 10 years and nine months in prison in 2014 for ten historic child sex offences, including sexual intercourse without consent and multiple acts of indecent assault.
It took the Parole Authority under a week to come to the decision to grant Hughes’ parole following a public hearing on May 27, after the former actor’s several failed attempts at freedom.
“Parole is granted. The offender is to be released not later than 14 June 2022,” the State Parole Authority said on Thursday.
Hughes has been told he must surrender his address, holiday plans and any movement around the UK.
He also must be of good behaviour, cannot commit any further offences and adapt to “normal lawful community life”.
In the determination, the authority said Hughes “abused his position of trust and exploited the naivety and youth of the children”.
Hughes continues to have the support of his family in the UK, including his wife and former celebrity talent agent Robyn Gardner.
“The offender’s wife expressed her intention to continue to provide emotional support upon his release,’ the authority said.
“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.”
In its reasons, the authority said it granted parole as it was Hughes’ “first period” in prison, he had demonstrated “satisfactory prison performance” and had suitable “post release plans” in the community.
His six year non-parole period expired in 2020 and the NSW State Parole Authority has twice refused him parole before he was released on Thursday.
The authority held a public hearing in Sydney on Friday after earlier requesting a psychological report about Hughes’ risk of reoffending.
Addressing the hearing, Hughes’ solicitor Hannah Bruce said he had “consistently been assessed as either medium, below risk or low risk of reoffending”.
“Whilst in custody it makes him ineligible for programs, he is ineligible for any sex offender programs … there are no further programs that he can complete whilst in custody that would go to reducing his risk of reoffending,” she said.
“It’s not a situation where he will be completely unmonitored when released to the community.
“He’s a gentleman towards the end of his years. His focus on release is maintaining a very low profile.”
In the UK Hughes will be required to notify authorities about his whereabouts and personal circumstances, with his legal representative telling the hearing there would be “significant sanctions” if the notification orders were breached.
Several of the victims Hughes targeted in the 1980s and ’90s, including former co-star Sarah Monahan, were present in court for the hearing and he showed no emotion as he appeared via audiovisual link on a screen from prison.
“He looked really, really old,” Ms Monahan told reporters gathered outside the Parramatta Law Courts building where the hearing took place.
“Anybody who’s going through it and they’re scared to go in to the court and see them, absolutely do it because it takes all their power away.
“I wanted him to see me … and that I wasn’t scared anymore.”
“On the one hand I’d prefer him to stay in jail where he’s not hurting kids and on the other hand it’s like, just let him go, let him be someone else’s problem and then I don’t have to deal with it anymore.”
According to court documents, the bulk of Hughes’ crimes were committed before he secured the lead role of widowed dad Martin Kelly on the hit Channel 7 sitcom which ran for seven years.
While in jail, Hughes claimed he was subject to constant verbal and physical abuse that included excrement, urine and boiling water being thrown over him.
Hughes’ non-parole period is due to expire on January 6, 2025.