In my quest to discover the movers and shakers of the Pagan community in Australia, it was bound to happen that I would eventually stumble upon him.
He is a man that everyone talks about through cautious whispers and shameful glances. Nobody says his name. I didn’t know his name until the internet magically revealed it. He’s the Voldemort of Victoria, but worse because he is real. His name is Robin Fletcher.
Robin Fletcher (aka Tim Ryan) is one of Victoria’s worst sex offenders. He described himself as a witch and a pagan. On his website, Bill Liddell states that Fletcher claimed to have been initiated into Pickingill Craft and Liddell denies any connection between Fletcher and the tradition. Fletcher may have also claimed to have been a druid. I don’t know how he got involved in the Pagan community. What is clear is that, in 1996, he was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for abusing and prostituting two 15-year-old girls.
In this 2011 story, the Courier-Mail reported that “he dressed the girls in dog collars, bound their wrists and flogged them with a whip and a paddle. He believed that sexualising children and sadomasochism were a legitimate part of his kinky religion.”
One of the girls committed suicide.
There was a media hailstorm when Fletcher was due to be released from prison. Fletcher showed no signs of remorse, refused treatment, and not only did he continue defending his actions as being part of his Wiccan religion, but he had continued trying to recruit people while behind bars, according to this 2009 article from the Herald Sun. The Victorian Government was not ready to allow Fletcher to rejoin society. In a Stateline interview with Josephine Cafagna, Police Minister Tim Holding said:
How can we just release him back into the community when he has indicated that he is highly likely to reoffend? He has shown no remorse, refused to undergo the treatment programs, and simply release him back into the community unsupervised, unmonitored.
The media trail online goes cold in 2011 with reports that Fletcher had already spent five years on top of his sentence, but the Department of Justice was preparing for a legal fight to have Fletcher placed on a supervision order until 2026. I don’t know where Fletcher is today.
In his essay “Australian Paganisms,” scholar Douglas Ezzy states that members of the Pagan community were instrumental in Fletcher’s conviction. The Pagan Awareness Network issued at least two media releases stating that “Fletcher is regarded by the entire Pagan and witch community with revulsion” and urging Victoria’s Department of Justice to maintain an extended supervision order against him.
It’s been a while, but Fletcher’s crimes have had a devastating and long-lasting effect on the Pagan community in Victoria, if not all of Australia. It’s a wound to the Pagan community that hasn’t fully healed and Fletcher has become a cautionary tale, a bogeyman that keeps Pagans suspicious of each other.