In the Melbourne County Court last week, Glenn Antony Hartland pleaded guilty to raping three women and indecently assaulting a fourth.
This means Mr Hartland will be in the community until his sentencing hearing in March 2019, provided he regularly reports to police and does not enter South Yarra, Elwood, St Kilda or Prahran, where he raped his victims.
The court’s decision has sparked a community outcry by those who are concerned that Hartland may commit further crimes while at liberty. They fear his devious tactics in luring women through the dating app Tinder by using different names and aliases, may be employed to enable to commission of further sexual assaults.
Mr Hartland’s plea comes as a surprise to many including those close to him, as he previously took to media outlets protesting his innocence in relation to raping two women in 2014, a third woman in 2016 and indecently assaulting a fourth woman in 2015.
The facts of the case are that Hartland met the four women online using a variety of identities, formed separate relationships with each of them – two were six months or more, one was three months and another six weeks. When these relationships ended, he turned up at their homes, talked his way in and, in the case of three of the women, sexually assaulted them.
The fourth victim, who was indecently assaulted, sensed something sinister when Hartland turned up at her door late at night. She says she “screamed him” out of her apartment building.
Long arm of the law
None of the women knew they were dealing with a serial rapist.
Rather, Victoria Police’s recently established Family Violence Taskforce analysed court data and noticed Hartland had a series of intervention orders against him.
The Taskforce contacted the protected women and connected the dots in relation to his offences.
Each of the victims had complained to police before the investigation. One withdrew her complaint after Hartland threatened her.
But police informed the women of the nature of the suspect and urged them to make further statements.
Victims ‘living in fear’.
All four women say they are now living in fear.
They are not convinced Hartland – who now goes by the name Glenn Potter – will adhere to his bail conditions, pointing out he has contravened them before.
In February this year, Hartland breached bail by approaching a victim of one of his rapes. He was sentenced to two months in prison after pleading guilty to the charge, but with time already served, walked free.
The victims feel let down that neither police nor prosecutors opposed the latest bail application.
One victim has written to the office of Victorian Attorney General Martin Pukula asking him to intervene and review the bail decision.
It has been reported she has also lodged a complaint over the Taskforce’s inaction with Victoria Police’s Professional Standards Command.
Violence against women in Australia
Violence against women continues to be at epidemic levels across the nation.
Both the Federal and State Governments have committed millions to fund initiatives to address the issue, which has been described as a ‘national disgrace’.
Many feel the Victorian Family Violence Taskforce did exactly what it was set up to do – to detect, arrest and charge a violent and repeat offender, but that other police involved, prosecutors and the court have let the community down.
They point out that Adrian Bayley was on bail and parole when he murdered Jill Meagher, and are frustrated that a man who has pleaded guilty to multiple cases of rape and is looking at a lengthy period of full-time custody would be released on bail, to potentially prey on other women.