This morning the fate of Brisbane Kmart Child Abductor was determined and the 27-year-old issued a statement via his lawyer, Shaune Irving.

In December 2019, Sterling Mervyn Free convinced a young girl to follow him out of Kmart, North Lakes and then proceeded to molest her. He then returned her to the Westfield shopping centre approximately an hour later.

Sterling Free has pleaded guilty to taking a child for immoral purposes, deprivation of liberty, and indecent treatment of a child under the age of 12. For his crimes, he was handed a sentence of just 8 years, with eligibility for parole in August 2021. The judge called the situation as ‘every parent’s worse nightmare’.

After the sentence was handed down, Free’s lawyer read a statement on behalf of his client to the awaiting media.

‘I took away her innocence and scared her family. I hope that today my sentence provides her and her family some hope for the future, I can only ever say sorry. I know that is not good enough’. 


Denise Morcombe had met with the little girl’s family and has released a series of tweets on the matter.

Sterling Free penned a letter to the court:

‘I accept full responsibility for my actions against the young girl. I know the enormous pain I have caused her, her family, my own family and children.

‘I today accept without reservation the punishment imposed by the justice system today.

‘I do not wish to cause any further pain to the young victim or her family or delay justice any further.

‘I cannot comprehend the pain that I have caused her. I took away her innocence and scared her family.

‘I hope that today my sentence provides her and her family some hope for the future.

‘I can only ever say sorry. I know that this is not good enough.

‘I’m not looking for forgiveness but only to let you know the harm that I have done, the harm that I have caused.

‘I cannot imagine the pain and fear I have caused. I can’t take that back.

‘To my family, the shock you have had to deal with, the public scrutiny was immense, my children deserve better.

‘They will now grow up without a father and I can only blame myself. I cannot comprehend the damage I have caused. I will seek treatment to ensure this doesn’t occur again.

‘I am committed to using my incarceration to seek professional assistance that I duly require.’

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  • 8 years? That it? That child is going to spend a lifetime going through crap from what he did to her. Hardly seems fair.


  • What an absolute nightmare. I would be so outraged by his light sentencing as the parent. It should be life so he can’t hurt any other children.


  • So many victims from this crime..She has the life sentence of dealing with this terrible event. Innocence, trust gone. Just awful.


  • I remember this story it’s disturbing to think this kind of thing can happen anywhere can not believe he only got 8years should be alot more or a bullet


  • I don’t know what can even go through someone’s head to look at a little child in that way. It’s sickening. I don’t know if any degree of help can help someone that can do that. Only God can help him. 8 years is not enough.


  • Things like this make me feel so sick. Definitely one of my worst nightmares!!! And yes, in his own words, sorry is not enough.
    Honestly don’t know how lawyers can or want to represent people like this! Money in their pockets but if they win and justice isn’t served then scum like him get to walk away Scott free.


  • Terrifying and life time trauma for the little girl and her family.


  • He’s trashed his wife and kids’ lives too.


  • It’s scary to think he will be out in a few years and likely have lots of access to children through his own children.


  • Not long enough. This poor little one has to live with what he did to her for her whole life, and he gets 8 years?! Pathetic


  • Nope not long enough that poor innocent little girl. My heart breaks for her and her family. Despite his statement people that do this is not a one off and he knew exactly what he was doing the sick disgusting person!


  • 8 years is not a real sentence he will still be young and agile on release and can do it again. Predators cannot be rehabilitated and should be locked up for life


  • what a sick, sick person.


  • Nots that long enough for destroying a little girls life. Its just a slap on the wrist.


  • Absolutely disgusting and horrific


  • That makes me angry…its so wrong


  • 8 years in jail but able to get parole in 2 years? That’s essentially saying yeah you did bad things but here go in a controlled environment with facilities and you will be out in 2 years.

    That girl will only be 9 or 10 and won’t have nearly enough time or therapy to overcome this incident in 2 years and yet this guy will be free roaming the streets again?

    Does that seem right to you?


  • ‘Eligible for parole in less than TWO YEARS.’ Come On Australia!!! This is absolutely ridiculous and outright disgusting!! His ‘sorry’ statement was clearly written by his lawyer. This is not paying for his crime at all!


  • This makes me so angry! This ‘Man’ stole that little girls innocence and destroyed her life and he gets away lightly. He should be made to spend his life locked away not just 8 years of it.


  • What a horrible thing for a little girl to have to go through, and I can’t even imagine how her mother felt. He does seems genuinely remorseful and recognises that he needs professional help, but that does not excuse the fact he committed a horrendous crime. I guess this serves as a lesson to us all to keep eyes on our kids at all times


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