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Robert Hughes released on parole after serving a sentence for child sexual abuse

Australian sitcom actor Robert Hughes will be freed from jail and deported to the UK after serving a sentence for child sexual abuse.

Hughes found fame for his lead role in Australian TV show Hey Dad! which aired in more than 20 countries from 1987.

In 2014 he was convicted of a string of child sexual offences – which he denied – against girls in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 73-year-old was granted parole by Australian authorities on Thursday.

Having renounced his Australian citizenship, the British national will be deported to the UK, where he will live with his wife, upon his release from prison.

Hughes has been eligible for parole for more than two years but has twice been denied freedom over concerns about his risk to the community.

He and his family deny his crimes but, since his last bid for parole, have promised he will seek psychological treatment when released and that he will have no unsupervised contact with children.

UK authorities, who have been informed of his impending release and deportation, have also since confirmed he will be monitored.

That – and a psychological assessment that Hughes has a below average risk of offending – was enough to satisfy parole authorities his risk to the community could be managed.

He will be released no later than 14 June.

‘Systemic, predatory behaviour’

Hughes’s 2014 trial heard evidence of sexual misconduct which had spanned 20 years. He was convicted of 10 child sexual assault offences against girls aged between seven and 15.

He abused his position of trust and exploited the naivety and youth of the children, Judge Peter Zahra said in sentencing at the time.

”The offender engaged in a systematic pattern of sexual abuse upon young girls over a number of years,” he said.

”His conduct was brazen… he engaged in predatory behaviour.”

On Thursday, parole judge David Frearson acknowledged the decision would be hard for the actor’s victims.

“It is clear that the profound and deleterious effects on the victims… continue to this day and will probably be lifelong consequences,” he said.

“It must be particularly galling for the victims to observe the offender’s continued and obstinate denials in the face of compelling and overwhelming evidence from multiple witnesses.”

Hey Dad! was hugely popular in Australia and ran for eight seasons until 1994.

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