Rottnest identity Peter Minekus walks free after sentencing over child sex offences

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Rottnest identity Peter Minekus walks free after sentencing over child sex offences


By Rebecca Peppiatt
Updated

A Rottnest general store employee came face-to-face with the man he “groomed” as a child in Perth’s District Court on Friday before he was handed a suspended term of imprisonment.

Peter John Minekus, now 61, pleaded guilty to the indecent assault of the man, now 54, in the 1980s. Minekus, a stalwart of the community for 30 years, was kicked off the island last year after the allegations came to light.

Peter Minekus was given an 18-month suspended term of imprisonment.Credit: 9 News Perth

On Friday, the court was told Minekus, then an 18-year-old man, “dry humped” his victim during a bout of wrestling when the victim was 10 years old.

Minekus also faced a second charge of committing indecent practices between males in public, relating to an incident where the victim, 14 at the time, and Minekus, who was 22, were sleeping side-by-side in a camper during a trip to Margaret River and engaged in sexual acts.

The court was told Minekus and his victim had developed a friendship when Minekus was 12 and the younger, aged five, “looked up to him as a mentor and brother” because he was an elite junior athlete. They lived just a few houses apart in the suburb of Karrinyup.

During a victim impact statement ahead of Minekus’ sentencing, the man said he had suffered lifelong damage as a result, including a period where he became a child prostitute because his ability to sense danger as a result of the “grooming” was impacted.

“It led me to extreme acts of degradation,” he said.

“Sexual advances by a male were normalised for me.”

The man added that he had been abused by supporters of Minekus, a large contingent of whom filled the court’s public gallery.

Lawyers for Minekus argued he did not understand at the time that what he did was wrong, and he had recently received an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.

“There is an immaturity around the offending,” they said.

They described Minekus as living a “simple, sheltered but relatively happy life” and as a “generous and caring man”.

Lawyers also criticised the publicity surrounding Minekus’ arrest.

“The underlying theme is that there is a predator living on the island, that there are other victims waiting to come out of the woodwork,” they said.

“[But] these were entirely isolated incidents. This offending is a one-off.”

Minekus was described as a homosexual who had limited relationship experience, who “never had any confidence”, and had “devoted his whole life to Rottnest Island”.

The court heard he had limited literacy skills, did not own a smartphone or a computer and had struggled to adjust to life on the mainland.

On Friday judge Karen Shepherd said it would not be appropriate to send Minekus to jail and instead gave him an 18-month suspended term of imprisonment with reporting conditions and mandatory counselling.

She told the court she had never in her legal career experienced receiving so many character references from people “in prominent positions within the community” who vouched for Minekus as a long-term friend.

“At no stage have they ever witnessed any inappropriate behaviour by you towards children,” she said.

Outside court Minekus’ victim said he was “gutted for his childhood” after the sentencing outcome.

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