Jules Mikus: A Murderer Who Lived Off the Taxpayer
Weekly Column by Dr Muriel Newman
Jules Mikus, found guilty of the murder of six-year-old Teresa Cormack, is in prison awaiting sentencing on November 1. As Teresa's family - and indeed the country - expresses relief that justice has finally been done in a case that shocked us all, disturbing details of the murderer's background are starting to emerge.
Jules Pierre Nicholas Mikus, transient and sickness beneficiary, has over 60 criminal convictions including child sex offending, assault, rape, murder, and multiple drug charges, burglary and theft. His sex offending convictions date back to the seventies. Since these crimes involved children, the predecessor of the Department of Child, Youth and Family - the Social Welfare Department formed after the 1972 merger of the Social Security Department and Child Welfare Division - was involved.
That is why it is difficult to understand how, in the mid-eighties, when Mikus once again came to the attention of the Police and the Department of Child, Youth and Family following allegations that he had sexually assaulted a child, more was not done to ensure that he had no further contact with children.
Child, Youth and Family have a statutory responsibility to ensure that children are kept safe. In this case, social workers were apparently aware that Mikus was a serial child sex offender, yet they allowed him to continue to care for and have access to children. As a result of my questions in the House, we know that at least five of the children in his care came to the attention of the Department in 1986, 1992, 1993, with two cases in 1994.
Yet in spite of a record of serious offending against children that should have sent out red alert warnings to all state agencies that this man was a danger to children, by 1998 Jules Mikus was on the Domestic Purposes Benefit and had been looking after his baby daughter since she was two days old. It transpired that both he and his partner were living together - each receiving the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Since they were fraudulently obtaining two benefits, Mikus's benefit was suspended later that year.
According to information I have received, in 1999 the family's four children - from three different fathers - were removed by the Department of Child, Youth and Family and taken into the care of family members. It has been alleged that some of those family members had gang connections.
When I stand back and take a dispassionate view of the life of Jules Mikus, who has had some 19 different partners and fathered at least 9 children, I have a sense of foreboding. I know what I am about to write will upset some people and I will hasten to put on record the fact that there are a majority of good people who use the benefit system in the way that it was intended: to provide a helping hand to a better life. Many of those people do a sterling job under difficult circumstances to keep their families together, to raise their children to succeed, and to seek long-term independence from the state.
But there are the people like Mr Mikus who has exploited the generosity of the taxpayer for most of his adult life, who has failed in his duty to take responsibility to support himself and those he partnered, and who indiscriminately fathered children that, as a sexual predator, he was incapable of caring for in the way that a father should.
The women who bore his children also need to take a long, hard look at themselves. Enough is known to suggest that they did not take responsibility for their own fertility, and that they used the benefit system as a way of life knowing that more children meant higher incomes.
Not only do I blame Mr Mikus for his exploitation of the benefit system, but also I condemn those governments which, recognising the potential for widespread and on-going abuse, have failed to tighten up the welfare system. What successive Ministers have done has effectively condemned the children of 'recidivist' beneficiaries to a future of limited opportunity by exposing them to risk factors that many find insurmountable.
There is now also clear evidence that long-term welfare dependency and crime go hand in hand: paying able-bodied men to do nothing, leaving them with time on their hands but not enough money in their pockets, is a recipe for disaster. By allowing welfare recidivism, governments put the lives of innocent people in our communities at risk.
In the mid-nineties, when the United States finally recognised the destructive influence of long-term welfare on the able-bodied, President Clinton introduced sweeping reforms. He replaced open-ended welfare entitlements with work test requirements and time limits. Those changes sent a clear signal that welfare was there for temporary support while people took responsibility for finding a job, earning a living and providing for their families. As a result, welfare rolls have more than halved, recidivist welfare is virtually a thing of the past, and outcomes for at-risk children have improved dramatically.
Sadly, no political party except ACT appears to have the stomach for this tough love approach. In fact, we are often condemned for holding the view that welfare reform would be good for New Zealand.
At the present time, the Labour government, supported by United, is going in exactly the opposite direction and entrenching welfare dependency even further. As a result more men like Mikus will live off the state, commit crime, indiscriminately father children and fail to take responsibility for their lives. Is this what we want for our future?