Child sex offender lived undetected in Wollongong for a year: court

An interstate child sex offender whose movements were meant to be subject to monitoring by authorities was able to live in undetected in Wollongong for a year, a court has heard.

Simon Aaron Wilhelm relocated from Western Australia to Tweed Heads in August 2016 just months after serving five years in prison for possession of child pornography.

He was placed on the NSW Child Protection Register upon his arrival in the state, however allegedly failed to report his change of address, as required under NSW law, when he moved to Unanderra to live with his father in October the same year.

The register, designed to monitor the movements and personal information of people convicted of a serious violent or sexual offence against a child, largely relies on offenders self-reporting any change in personal circumstances.

These can include their working situations, living arrangements, access to technology and interaction with children.

It is alleged Wilhelm’s failure to update his contact details at the time of his move allowed him to live in the Illawarra free from scrutiny and monitoring by local police.

His presence in the region only came to the attention of police when he was charged with assaulting his father in October 2017.

During his 12 months under the radar, Wilhelm allegedly lived at multiple different addresses, some of which are located just a few hundred metres from businesses frequented by children.​

Wilhelm has not been charged with committing any offences against children and the Mercury does not suggest he had.

Court documents reveal Wilhelm lived with his father at Unanderra for six months before moving into a house across the road for a few months.

In June 2017, he negotiated to rent a warehouse on Auburn Street, Wollongong, telling the owner he wanted to start a mechanic shop.

He was given the keys before the lease agreement was signed and moved in immediately, living at the location rent-free until he was evicted in early October, a day after being charged with the assault of his father.

In a subsequent court appearance, Wilhelm was granted bail on the condition he report daily to police and live at the Figtree Hotel.

Two months later, Wilhelm successfully applied to the court to change his address to a property in Keira Street, however again failed to update his details on the CPR, prompting another investigation by detectives, who attended the Keira Street address on Thursday.

The owner of the property told police Wilhelm had never lived inside the premises and only parked his vehicle in the driveway and slept in it for a few weeks.

Police discovered Wilhelm had subsequently moved into a friend’s warehouse in Kenny Street where he lived until earlier this week.

The court heard he spent Wednesday night at his uncle’s house in Mt Kembla before attending Wollongong Police Station on Thursday where he was arrested.

Wilhelm applied for bail in court on Friday however it was refused by Magistrate Cate Follent, who noted Wilhelm had a history of non-compliance with court orders.

The case returns to court on February 20.