A SEXUAL predator described by one of his victims as a “monster underneath a charismatic exterior” could soon be released back into the community, sending the young people he preyed upon into a heightened state of fear and anxiety.
Three years have gone by in the blink of an eye for two teenage boys and one young man who fell victim to child molester James Cameron Wood.
They had the courage to stand up in court and reveal intimate details of their pain and trauma, yet the man who changed their lives forever is up for parole consideration next month and could soon be free.
There’s a good chance his debt to society will have been paid while the three victims continue serving their “life sentence”.
Wood, who lived in Kiama Downs at the time of his arrest, confessed in 2011 to sexually assaulting the three males all aged under 16 at the time.
While his two most serious charges carried maximum terms of 20 years in jail and a non-parole period of 10 years, his sentences were combined, meaning Wood could serve a minimum non-parole period of three years and nine months. His earliest release date is August 22.
The mother of one of the boys, who is still a minor, says she is furious the release date could be upon her family so soon and is petrified about what the future holds.
“His criminal actions that he was arrested and convicted for span years, it’s not just a one-time offence,” the South Coast woman said.
“This was not car stealing or shoplifting offences. This was aggravated sexual assault of a minor and indecent assault of a minor that was premeditated and executed to his pleasure several times over several years.”
The mother of two says no sentence could ever be sufficient unless it is life when “the victims of sexual abuse live with the repercussions forever and so do the families”.
Although the three families understand Wood will one day be released into society, they want him to serve his maximum sentence of seven years.
“Little consideration should be given to how well he behaved in the controlled environment of jail,” the Illawarra mother said.
“This man that we loved and trusted into our lives was grooming all of us to believe him to be someone he wasn’t.”
The mothers of two of the victims revealed their husbands had been childhood friends with Wood – who then naturally became a trusted part of their family lives. The parents are now riddled with guilt and fury, knowing the man they trusted had access to their children.
During sentencing the court heard 38-year-old Wood had crept into one of the boys’ bedrooms when he was just 12 years old and started touching him when he was asleep.
A few years later there was another incident at a caravan park in Merry Beach near Batemans Bay.
That victim, now aged 25, says he felt like he had a disease eating away at him from the inside since the abuse.
He blames himself that Wood went on to molest the two other boys several years later.
“I feel let down by the system. I thought I would get up in court, like on TV and justice would be served. But it wasn’t.
“What if he walks into a shop where I work, or I pass him in the street? I don’t know what I would do,” he said, disgusted at the thought and furious a justice system could let him down.
He has always been driven by the hope that speaking out will give other victims a voice.
The man and the two mothers will be writing submissions to the State Parole Authority in the hope that Wood will be made to serve out his maximum custodial sentence.
“Please be prepared for a massive ‘I told you so’ if you grant parole because it will only be a matter of time,” one of the mothers said.
“A name on a sex offenders list is little assurance when the general public have no access to that information on a day-to-day basis. And it’s not likely a sex offender will disclose his past to the people he meets in the streets.
“Our greatest fear is that he will reoffend, blend back into life and meet new families who will be seduced by his charismatic persona.”