Scene at North Lakes shopping centre, where the girl was kidnapped on Saturday.
Scene at North Lakes shopping centre, where the girl was kidnapped on Saturday.

Accused Kmart kidnapper fears ‘lynching’

A QUEENSLAND magistrate has backed a police push to withhold information about an alleged abduction and sexual assault of a seven-year-old girl, fearing a "public lynching".

But the identity of the 26-year-old father of twins babies who allegedly lured the girl from a shopping centre north of Brisbane and took her to bushland to sexually assault her, has been revealed, despite the case being heard in a closed court for a second-straight day on Wednesday.

Sterling Free, of Morayfield, avoided the eyes of media who fought to be allowed in the courtroom.

Police did not release details of the incident on Saturday until three days later - after Mr Free was charged with deprivation of liberty, taking a child for immoral purposes and indecent treatment of a child under 12.

They said the decision was "for the sake of" the investigation.

When police again applied to close the court today, Pine Rivers magistrate Trevor Morgan obliged in the "very significant" interests of the victim.

Several media organisations had banded together and hired a lawyer to fight the closed court order, reports The Courier Mail.

"It's also important I take into account the interests of the administration of justice and ensuring that proceedings proceed according to the fundamental principle of fairness and the application of the rule of law, and not by a public or social media lynching," Mr Morgan said on Wednesday.

Stirling Free has faced court today.
Stirling Free has faced court today.

"I also note there have been comments from politicians criticising the behaviour of police in not disclosing more information than had been disclosed earlier.

"I entirely support the view, the position taken by police, in not disclosing more information than has been.

"In my view, less information would have been more helpful than has already been disclosed."

The girl was allegedly approached at Kmart at Westfield North Lakes shopping centre before going missing for more than an hour.

It is unknown if the man has applied for bail.

On social media, members of the public have threatened the accused's life and shared his profile, AAP reports.

 

The court was closed to prevent a “public lynching”.
The court was closed to prevent a “public lynching”.


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