Luke Margaritis – World travelling teacher and convicted paedophile

When Luke Margaritis was 13, he had the excitement & joy of performing in the opening & closing ceremonies of the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Brisbane.
What made him want to take away excitement, joy & hope from other teens?

Read what this pig has been up to, BRISBANE folks may or may not know he USED to run a  cafe/coffee shop UNTIL HE WENT BACK TO PRISON. (Milk Espresso Bar & Tea House) Video a bit further down. If governments continue to do sweet F all we have to do it. 

Luke Margaritis - World traveling teacher & convicted paedophile

Luke Margaritis – World traveling teacher & convicted paedophile

 In 2002, he was a chaperone to Ducie High pupils as they practiced for Manchester 2002.

 In 1994, Margaritis took advantage of a 15-year-old student by giving him “a big cone” of marijuana before abusing him.

 In 1995, Margaritis plied a 13 year old boy with drugs & alcohol before abusing him.

 Both boys were students at St Edmund’s College.

 In 2010/2011, he moved to a little tiny town in Norseman Western Australia where he continued to teach disadvantaged students aged 12 – 16.

 In 2013, he opened a coffee shop in Brisbane called Milk Espresso Bar & Tea House.

This teacher has been all around Europe teaching, including Dulcie High.
If you or anyone you know have been abused by this man, Please contact your local police.


About these ads

Michael Williamson jailed for at least five years over HSU fraud

Another greedy union official bites the dust, jailed for 5 years, that’s good, but not enough when one considers what he got up to. Filling his own and his families pockets with as much money as they could grab from the low paid workers this bastard was supposed to represent. Paying family owned companies hundreds of thousands of dollars for non existent or grossly over charging for work in the union.

I posted about his antics here several years ago along with Craig Thompson and the high living they felt was a free for all “Entitlement”

I will piece together my other posts and add them here shortly. Tip of the iceburg people…

Michael Williamson jailed for at least five years over HSU fraud

Updated 5 minutes ago

Former Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson has been sentenced to up to seven-and-a-half years in jail for fraud.

The New South Wales District Court was packed as sentencing Judge David Frearson described Williamson as “brazen and arrogant”.

The judge said Williamson was in a position of power when he defrauded the union of nearly $1 million.

The 60-year-old will be eligible for parole after serving five years in prison.

Williamson had been facing a possible 20 years in jail after pleading guilty to four charges including fraud and recruiting others to hinder a police investigation.

Prosecutors say Williamson, who was already on a salary of about $500,000, was motivated by greed.

The court has been told the former Australian Labor Party president submitted false invoices to the union from a company in his wife’s name.

Williamson’s lawyers say he has apologised and taken full responsibility for his actions, noting he has also suffered depression since his behaviour was exposed.

More to come.

Michael Williamson apologises for fraud as Health Services Union claims back funds

Updated Wed 16 Oct 2013

Disgraced former ALP president Michael Williamson has apologised to members of the Health Services Union (HSU) for his large-scale fraud, as the organisation moves to recoup millions of dollars.

Williamson appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court yesterday and admitted funnelling almost $1 million of union funds into companies he had an interest in as well as recruiting union members to help cover his tracks.

Williamson admitted claiming $340,000 for a business called Canme Services – which was registered in his wife Julieanne’s name – although no services were ever provided.

He also admitted to defrauding the union out of $600,000 through a consulting company called Access Focus.

The HSU says it has now finalised its civil claim against Williamson in the New South Wales Supreme Court.

He has been ordered to pay the union $5 million for breaches of his duty, overpayments of remuneration and negligence.

But it is unclear how much of the money will be recovered because Williamson has declared himself bankrupt.

Branch secretary Gerard Hayes says the union will still be able to claw back significant funds.

“We are able to withhold $1.1 million out of his superannuation and we are withholding $600,000 of unpaid entitlements,” he said.

“And very importantly as well a public apology will be issued to our members.”

Members of the HSU include some of the lowest-paid health workers such as cleaners and support staff.

In his letter of apology released by the union, Williamson urges members not to quit saying he accepts responsibility for what he did:

“I wish to place on record my sincere apology to all of you.

“You placed your trust in me when I was the general secretary and I abused that trust.

“I apologise unreservedly to all of you for my actions, which were not in keeping with the position I formerly held.

“I have agreed to assist the union in recovery actions against others, and will honour that agreement.

“The court will determine the penalty I am to receive, but it won’t remove the fact I have to live with this matter until the day I die.”

The HSU says the settlement was reached with the help of independent mediator, the former federal attorney-general Robert McClelland.

Mr Hayes says it is a line in the sand for the beleaguered union.

“This puts the last couple of years of turmoil to bed and it gets the union focused on what the union should be focused on,” he said.

Sentencing for Williamson begins in two weeks.

Former HSU boss Michael Williamson admits fraud offences

Updated Tue 15 Oct 2013

Former Australian Labor Party president Michael Williamson has pleaded guilty to funnelling almost $1 million from the Health Services Union (HSU) to businesses he had an interest in.

Williamson, who was arrested when detectives raided his Maroubra home in Sydney’s east last year, now faces jail for the offences.

The police investigation probed allegations of corruption during his time at the HSU aired by the union’s national secretary, Kathy Jackson.

He was accused of dozens of offences, including money laundering, dealing with the proceeds of crime and dishonestly dealing with hundreds of thousands of dollars of union funds.

Williamson appeared in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court this morning with his solicitor Vivian Evans.

The prosecutor told Chief Magistrate Graham Henson that several offences had been folded into four formal charges that Williamson would plead guilty to.

Williamson admitted funnelling nearly $340,000 into a business called Canme Services, which was registered in his wife Julieanne’s name.

Dozens of cheques were made out to Canme for services that were never provided to the union.

He also admitted to defrauding the union out of $600,000 through a consulting company called Access Focus.

It is believed Williamson received a massive windfall from the company due to inflated fees billed to the HSU.

The former unionist also pleaded guilty to fabricating invoices to cover his tracks in returns to the union in February last year.

Caught shredding evidence

The final guilty plea came in relation to recruiting of other union members to help destroy evidence and hinder a police investigation.

Last year, Williamson was caught trying to shred documents when he was confronted by the NSW Fraud Squad at the union offices in Sydney’s CBD.

He has pleaded guilty to recruiting Carron Gilleland to help him destroy evidence in the case.

‘Absolutely outrageous nepotism’

SMH investigative reporter Kate McClymont broke the story that led to the charges. She has told the ABC it is a case of “absolutely outrageous nepotism”.

“Especially when you think that the members of the HSU are hospital cleaners, orderlies, among the lowest paid unionists in the country,” she said.

McClymont is not surprised Williamson pleaded guilty, saying there were “certain pressures put on him” to do so.

“For instance, his son Christopher was one of those that was possibly facing criminal charges. So I think that there has been some argy bargy going on over the last couple of months that has led to his guilty plea today,” she said.

Listen to McClymont’s interview with the ABC.

Williamson stayed quiet through the proceedings today, with the prosecutor informing the court of the amended charge sheet.

He emerged from court speaking on a mobile phone and ignored the hive of media that had assembled.

Williamson resigned from the HSU late last year, less than two weeks after a leaked report into the union’s internal workings alleged he engaged in nepotism by funnelling union funds to himself and his family.

The report, by Ian Temby QC and Dennis Robertson, detailed allegations of multi-million-dollar instances of nepotism, maladministration and cronyism.

It said Williamson had a salary of almost $400,000 and alleged five members of his family were among the union’s best paid employees.

The magistrate committed Williamson to sentencing on October 28 in the District Court.

Police have previously said they expect to make more arrests in the case.

Closure for union members

The Australian Council of Trades Union (ACTU) says it hopes Williamson faces the full force of the law.

ACTU president Ged Kearney says he deserves whatever punishment he receives.

“Defrauding union members of their money is something that the union movement cannot abide and will not stand for,” she said.

“These offences are very serious and we’re very pleased that they will be dealt with properly by the criminal law.”

The New South Wales secretary of the HSU, Gerard Hayes, says today’s guilty pleas by Williamson will help bring closure for the union’s members.

“There are 30,000 victims in this matter,” he said.

“They needed closure and this certainly brings closure for them.”

George Pell-Royal Commission to inquire into the Catholic Church and Towards Healing

OMG I have been watching Cardinal Pell’s live evidence all day and seriously, he needs to get to confession. Lying his brain off and justifying everything in favour of the church.

I did want to stay out of these religion relation Royal Commission hearings but can not. AS a survivor of sexual abuse by the catholic church I dry reach listening to him.


UPDATE 26/03/14 The Cardinal had a second day in the hot seat and was no better trying to defend the indefensible

George Pell tells sex abuse royal commission case against John Ellis was unfair ‘from a Christian point of view’

Updated 2 minutes ago

Cardinal George Pell says that from a “Christian point of view”, the Church did not deal fairly with former altar boy and sex abuse victim John Ellis.

Mr Ellis was abused by a priest in the 1970s, but lost a legal battle in 2007 when the Court of Appeal ruled the Catholic Church was not an entity that could be sued.

Cardinal Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric, is giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.

He said although lawyers never acted improperly, he had “moral doubts” and believed the case was mishandled from a spiritual perspective.”Any reservations I might have about particular stands of our lawyers, I would not want to suggest that they did anything improper,” he told the hearing.

“But from my point of view, from a Christian point of view, leaving aside the legal dimension, I don’t think we did deal fairly.”

Cardinal Pell said that he endorsed the aggressive strategies of the church’s lawyers, who were instructed to “resist” Mr Ellis’s claim, despite the fact that he believed Mr Ellis.

“Part of that wording, ‘vigorously’ or ‘strenuously’, was, at least in my mind, an attempt to encourage people not to go into litigation,” Cardinal Pell told the hearing.

Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness questioned the Cardinal’s stance.

“So by having a vigorous defence, that would show potential plaintiffs that they should think twice before litigating against the church?” she asked.

“That they should think clearly,” Cardinal Pell responded.

Cardinal Pell said victims should settle the matters outside court.

In a statement to the commission, Cardinal Pell apologised to Mr Ellis for the abuse committed by Father Aidan Duggan.

Cardinal Pell admitted endorsing a decision not to enter mediation at the time the legal action began, but now concedes that was a mistake.

“I could have. I regret that I didn’t. As a general rule, though, I handed over the carriage of the case to our legal advisers and I should have been more vigilant,” he said.

Before the case Mr Ellis asked for $100,000 but was offered $30,000.

The court costs far exceeded Mr Ellis’s original request for compensation.

The Cardinal said at the time the legal action commenced in 2004, he was mistaken about Mr Ellis.

“He presented so well. He’s such a senior lawyer; he was represented by two very high-profile lawyers,” Cardinal Pell said.

“I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

Cardinal George Pell

“We would never have run this case against many of the victims who came forward because they’re manifestly so wounded.

“That was not apparent to me at this stage.”

During the litigation, Cardinal Pell expressed concern to his colleagues about exacerbating the victim’s psychiatric condition.

He was today asked whether he was actually attempting to avoid bad publicity as a result of the case.

“That was always one of my concerns, yes, but it was not my first concern,” he said.

Cardinal Pell has denied being involved in the day-to-day running of the legal battle with Mr Ellis.

A second man came forward with a complaint about the priest during the litigation

Cardinal Pell admits that would have strengthened Mr Ellis’s case, but said he did not discuss it with the lawyers.

The hearing continues.

Cardinal George Pell says he was not involved in discussions on compensation payments

George Pell says Vatican treated abuse accusers as ‘enemies of the church

George Pell says Vatican treated abuse accusers as ‘enemies of the church

Cardinal George Pell has told a royal commission into child sexual abuse he was not involved in discussions about compensation for a victim who sued the Catholic Church and lost.

The former archbishop of Sydney, Australia’s highest-ranking Catholic, is giving evidence in front of a packed public gallery at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.

Today he was questioned about his part in the Church’s legal battle with John Ellis, who was abused by Sydney priest Father Aidan Duggan in the 1970s.

The former altar boy lost his case in 2007, when the New South Wales Court of Appeal ruled the Church was not a legal entity that could be sued – the so-called Ellis defence.

Catholic officials have said Cardinal Pell knew about Mr Ellis’s compensation request, but say he instructed the Church’s lawyers to defend the case vigorously.

Last week Cardinal Pell’s private secretary, Dr Michael Casey, told the commission Cardinal Pell had directed the legal team to be aggressive in its cross-examination.

Today Cardinal Pell said the legal battle had been “hard fought, perhaps too well fought by our legal representatives”.

“I would now say, looking back, that these legal measures, although effective, were disproportionate to the objective and to the psychological state of Mr Ellis as I now better understand it,” he said in a statement tendered to the royal commission.

“I realise I should have exercised more regular and stringent oversight.”

But Cardinal Pell denied claims from the former chancellor of the Sydney Archdiocese that he was involved in discussions about compensation payments, particularly when Mr Ellis lost his job.

“[Claims that] I would agree to offer him $5,000 extra by way of compensation, I regard as grotesque,” he said.

There was a round of applause in the packed hearing room when Cardinal Pell was challenged to back up his statement that quite a number of abuse cases are never validated.

“You’ve said that in quite a number of cases, for example, in schools, the incidents are found not to be validated,” Counsel Assisting the Commission Gail Furness said.

“I call for the data that supports that evidence.”

Sceptical Vatican gave accused ‘benefit of the doubt’

Before turning to the Ellis case, the commission had questioned Cardinal Pell about the culture of the Church in the 1990s.

Cardinal Pell agreed that before the Towards Healing pastoral and redress scheme was established in the mid-1990s, some priests were moved between dioceses in the event of an abuse complaint.

“Unfortunately that was the case,” he said. “If that happened, it would be very much by way of exception.”

He told the hearing the Vatican took a “sceptical” approach to complaints of abuse and accused priests were given “the benefit of the doubt”.

I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant, rather than listen seriously to the complaints.

Cardinal George Pell

“The attitude of some people at the Vatican was that if accusations were being made against priests, they were made exclusively or at least predominantly by enemies of the Church to make trouble and therefore they should be dealt with sceptically,” he said.

“I think there was more of an inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to the defendant rather than listen seriously to the complaints.”

Cardinal Pell also told the commission that sentiments similar to those in the Vatican were present among some in the Australian arm of the Church in the early 1990s.

“Not to anything like the same degree, I don’t think, but it is a little bit difficult to know what people think on these issues unless they are discussed directly or they are challenged on them,” Cardinal Pell said.

“I never heard – I think in many ways, the English-speaking world made a significant contribution to the universal church in this area.

“In dealing adequately with this, whatever the deficiencies, I think we were ahead of some countries.”

He said when he became Archbishop of Melbourne he “moved very vigorously no improve what was a chaotic situation” surrounding the handling of abuse claims.

Abuse survivors listen closely to Pell’s evidence

The walls outside the royal commission have been covered in placards from victim support groups, calling on Cardinal Pell to be accountable for his actions and detail his role in the Ellis legal proceedings.

Child abuse survivors said they would watch Cardinal Pell’s appearance with great interest.

Dr Cathy Kezelman, the president of the group Adults Surviving Child Abuse, said there needed to be some clarity around the issue.

“We’re all waiting to see what the archbishop’s role was in this case and there’s been conflicting evidence to date. What we know is that John Ellis suffered enormously through this,” she said.

“We had an internal church process that acknowledged he’d been abused and yet when he sought a civil claim that was brought into question.”

Care Leavers Australia Network chief executive Leonie Sheedy said her organisation was eagerly anticipating the Cardinal’s evidence.

“It’s so long overdue,” she said. “I feel so sad about what happened to John Ellis and all those other people who have tried to get justice for the crimes that were committed against them.

“They call it the Ellis defence, but it should be called the Pell defence.

“He’s going to go down in history as the person who denied people justice.”

After his testimony, Cardinal Pell is expected to leave Australia for Rome to take on a new senior role at the Vatican, which includes responsibility for preparing the Vatican’s annual budget, as well as financial planning and enhanced internal controls.

The hearing continues.


All previous  posts, including round up of  every day of trial press here


press read more to read transcript

Continue reading

Toowoomba teacher tells royal commission she couldn’t understand why molested children didn’t come forward

Here we go again, disgusting out of touch responses from officials where children were abused. Finger pointing, buck passing, protocol this, protocol that… WAKE THE HELL UP AUSTRALIA

This has to end, and we cannot continue to let this bullshit roll along until the perpetrators die or disappear (to abuse again)

I have much more to add in the morning but had to get this published tonight. It is disgusting beyond anything I have ever seen here.



update tonight 18/02/14 more poor excuses at the highest levels, a principal no less, had no guts to do something

Principal didn’t report paedophile teacher

February 18, 2014 7:38PM

A CATHOLIC principal didn’t trust or like a paedophile teacher, but never reported child sex abuse complaints against him to police because he did not want to compromise the bishop.

Terence Hayes, who currently works as a year seven teacher, was principal of a Queensland primary in 2007 and 2008 when serious child sex abuse complaints were made against teacher Gerard Byrnes.

But Mr Hayes says he never reported any allegations to police, as the school’s child protection manual and state laws required, because he was always told to go to his superiors first.

“In the Catholic system, principals are not autonomous. We are virtually middle managers. So as, per the advice that had been given to me, we were constantly told we can never do anything without going to the office and getting advice of our superiors,” he told a hearing of the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Brisbane on Tuesday.

“Principals were of the understanding that CEO (Catholic Education Office) was the first port of call, and that the bishop must not be compromised.”

Counsel Assisting Andrew Naylor SC asked the former principal why the school’s child protection manual existed if it wasn’t being followed.

“That’s a question for my superiors, but we were told by our superiors to ‘come to us, we would help you, we are the first port of call, we work together’,” Mr Hayes replied.

Mr Hayes said after the first sex abuse complaints against Byrnes were made, he didn’t tell Byrnes that any action would be taken because he wanted to keep an eye on Byrnes secretly.

“I didn’t trust him. I didn’t like him. He was a very difficult person on staff. I didn’t enjoy the guy on staff,” Mr Hayes said.

But Byrnes wasn’t stood down as a student protection officer at the school up until he resigned in June 2008.

He was then rehired as a relief teacher one month later.

Mr Naylor asked if Mr Hayes had made his opinion about Byrnes known to superiors before he was rehired.

“I’m a very system-orientated person and it’s not for me to make a judgement on that information,” Mr Hayes said.

Mr Naylor then asked if he had felt comfortable about the CEO making a decision to let Byrnes come back to his school and teach children.

“If the system had said yes, I’m comfortable,” Mr Hayes replied.

Byrnes’ employment at the school only ceased when he was finally arrested by police in November 2008.

He pleaded guilty to 44 child sex abuse charges, including 10 of rape, and was sentenced to 10 years jail in 2010.

The hearing is set to continue on Wednesday.

Toowoomba teacher tells royal commission she couldn’t understand why molested children didn’t come forward

A former student protection officer at a Queensland primary school says she could not understand why students who had been sexually abused “didn’t have the courage to come forward”.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

Catherine Long was a student protection officer at the Toowoomba primary school where teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking at why Byrnes was allowed to go on offending for more than a year after allegations were first made against him to the school.

Byrnes, the school’s child protection contact, pleaded guilty in 2010 to child sex offences, including rape. He carried out all but two of his crimes in the classroom.

Ms Long, who still teaches at the school,was today questioned by the commission in Brisbane as to why she did not refer one student’s complaint to police or authorities.

She said some of the relevant school protocols were difficult to understand and she was reluctant to believe her colleague was a paedophile.

“And I don’t get that our children, with all of this student protection and everything else that we have, didn’t have the courage to come forward,” she said.

Ms Long also told the hearing she believed referring the matter to police was the principal’s responsibility.

“I was there as the note-taker – he was in charge, not me,” she said.

Principal told but no action taken

One of the parents reported that his daughter’s accusations of abuse to the principal at the time, Terrence Hayes, as well as another teacher, but neither related the accusations to the police.

“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls,” said Monique Scattini, who legally represented the families of five of the abused girls.

Mr Hayes was charged with failing to tell police about the abuse complaints, but was later acquitted. He is expected to give evidence later this week.

No action was taken against Byrnes, a veteran teacher and father of eight children, until a parent of an abused girl went directly to the police.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those,” said Janette Dines, the chief executive of the commission.

“And in this case, the abuse not just continued but escalated after the first complaints were made.”

The parents of three of the victims fronted the commission today, with one mother saying the school’s refusal to act on allegations was “disgusting”.

Another mother of an abuse victim said she and other parents were ostracised by the school community after they complained about the abuse, and how the school had dealt with their concerns.

“The parents of the victims were made out to be the bad guys,” she said.

Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Church’s Truth Justice Healing Council, admits the case was mishandled.

“There’s no doubt that there would still be considerable anger at the Church over its handling [of this case],” he said.

“We’ve discussed the loss of trust about what’s occurring … [in a] close-knit community something like this really goes to the heart of relationships.”

The hearing is expected to last for five days.

Royal commission to probe handling of reports of abuse by Gerard Vincent Byrnes at Toowoomba School

By Emily Bourke

The child abuse royal commission will today turn its attention to how staff and Catholic Church officials at a Toowoomba primary school in south-east Queensland dealt with allegations of sexual offences against girls between 2007 and 2008.

In 2010, veteran teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes pleaded guilty to child sex offences committed against 13 girls and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is taking a closer look at how the school dealt with the complaints.

Monique Scattini represented the families of five victims who took legal action and says the abuse could have been prevented.

“One of the parents went to the principal, reported allegations that his daughter had made to him,” Ms Scattini said.

“There was subsequently a meeting with the principal and another teacher … who conducted an interview with the young girl and her father.

“At the end of that meeting neither the principal nor the teacher reported the matter to police.

“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls.

“And it was absolutely preventable if anyone in Catholic Education had have done their job.

“I know it could have been prevented because when the teacher was arrested, he admitted to the offences.”

Mandatory reporting laws were put to the test, but the principal was found not guilty of failing to refer the allegation to police.

Ms Scattini says the response from the broader school community was also upsetting for the victims’ families.

Audio: Listen to Emily Bourke’s report for AM (AM)

“Sadly the school didn’t rally at all around the parents or the young girls who were the victims,” she said.

“Instead all the support was thrown behind the principal.

“A number of staff and parents in the school community were wearing badges and ribbons in support for him as they would attend school grounds or in-court hearings for both the criminal prosecution of the paedophile and the principal.

“So they [the victims] felt incredibly ostracised.”

‘Procedures not followed to the letter’

Royal commission chief executive Janette Dines says this particular case is striking, given that procedures were in place to deal with reports of abuse.

“Given that we have just finished looking at what some people would call historical abuse with the Salvation Army, this is quite confronting for a lot of people who might have thought that abuse was in the past,” Ms Dines said.

“What is also quite striking about this case is the fact is that the abuse against these girls, who were all aged eight to 10 at the time, occurred predominantly in the classroom in front of other children.

“And I think the other striking thing is the fact that this isn’t a case where there weren’t systems and procedures in place.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.

“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.”

Ms Dines says it is likely other students at the school were aware of the abuse.

“There is a sense that the children as a group were aware of what was going on,” she said.

“And whilst one of the girls had the courage to come forward, the sense of fear and powerlessness when it was obvious that she wasn’t believed and nothing happened is a big feature of the impact that that’s had on this group of children.”

Francis Sullivan, from the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, says the school community are still coming to terms with the events.

“What happened in this particular case is so alien to what a church is about, people carry that with them for a very long time,” Mr Sullivan said.

“When I visited Toowoomba recently and even went to the school and spoke to people in the staff room, it is quite clear that the experiences of 2007 and 2008 are still fresh.

“In the local community it’s extremely potent and fresh and so it should be.

“This was such a travesty, and such a tragedy and the trust that a community should put in a Catholic Church school and certainly in the Catholic Church was really eroded and the scars of that remain.”

Advocacy group initiates investigation of Family Court

Meanwhile, long-time advocate for child abuse victims, Hetty Johnston, is optimistic about the public hearing.

“They are getting to the crux of matters – they are taking no prisoners and the ramifications for this are not just going to affect Australia’s children and organisations, the threads of this lead right around the globe,” Ms Johnston said.

The royal commission’s terms of reference are limited to looking at institutions and how they have responded to child sexual abuse.

Ms Johnston says the inquiry should be expanded as it does not look into abuse that occurs in the family.

The founder of Bravehearts has told the ABC that the children’s advocacy group has received funding from a private benefactor to conduct its own investigation of the Family Court.

It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.

“It’s as though the shutters have come down, and they’ve said, ‘well, you can look in the churches, and you can go anywhere else but don’t you come looking in here’.

Bravehearts are determined to go looking there, and we are going to go looking there.

“We are going to do this investigation. We have some private funding to make that happen.”

Ms Johnston says the Family Court is an institution that cannot be ignored.

“We cannot let this opportunity go, where finally, as a nation, we are focusing on this most heinous of ways to offend against children, and not look at the modern-day issues that are facing our children,” she said.

“They are not the homes any more, or the institutions, the churches.

“It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.

“We need to get that right, and unless they do that, we’re going to be having this again in 15 years’ time.”

Principal barred for paedophile inaction

A QUEENSLAND Catholic primary school headmaster who failed to stop a pedophile teacher from repeatedly abusing his female students has been barred from serving as a principal.

Terence Michael Hayes admitted to a tribunal that he failed to protect students after receiving a complaint in 2007 that one of his teachers, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, had molested a member of his Year 4 class at the school in Toowoomba.

When Byrnes retired in mid-2008, Mr Hayes obtained approval from the Catholic Education Office to rehire the pedophile, then 58, as a casual teacher.

Byrnes was jailed in 2010 for committing 44 sexual offences against 13 girls – all aged nine and 10 – between January 2007 and November 2008.

Mr Hayes was the first person in Australia to be charged under laws requiring reporting to police of suspicions of child-sex abuse, but he was acquitted in 2009.

The Queensland College of Teachers has now taken action in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, obtaining orders that Mr Hayes undertake 50 hours of community service and that he never again act as a principal, acting principal or as a child protection contact.

He was also handed a two-year suspension from teaching, wholly suspended on account of his sporadic work history since his dismissal in December 2009.

He resumed teaching fulltime last year.

The September 2007 complaint received by Mr Hayes indicated that Byrnes had kissed a girl on the cheek, put his hand through a girl’s shirt and placed his hand on the upper leg of a girl.

Byrnes admitted to Mr Hayes that he had placed girls on his lap in class, spoken to girls in the playground, given lollies to students and allowed students to visit his class.

Mr Hayes reported the allegation to the Catholic Education Office, but Byrnes was not monitored or removed from his role as a student protection contact.

In written reasons published this month, QCAT said: “The young students who were the victims of Mr Byrnes’ conduct have suffered … serious and long-lasting consequences.

“Principals must be deterred from similar failings.”

Byrnes was jailed for 10 years in 2010, and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

No appeal for pedophile teacher

Peter Hardwick | 12th March 2011

  • ·

ARGUABLY Toowoomba’s most despised individual, pedophile school teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes, has escaped serving any more time in jail.

The Court of Appeal in Brisbane yesterday rejected an Attorney General’s appeal against the leniency of the sentence handed down in Toowoomba District Court to the 61-year-old who admitted 44 sexual offences against girl students aged just nine and 10.

Byrnes’ offences included the rape of six girls in his care and the ongoing grooming of one child.

Many of the offences had occurred in the classroom environment at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school and at times in front of other students.

Adding to the abhorrence of his crimes, Byrnes had at the time been the school’s designated Child Protection Officer.

He was sentenced to 10 years jail, a sentence then Attorney General Cameron Dick appealed claiming the penalty was inadequate for such serious offending in Brynes’ position as the victims’ class teacher.

Tony Moynihan SC, for the Attorney General’s appeal, argued the sentence was inadequate for a “gross breach of trust and abuse of power”.

The appeal sought to increase the jail term up to 15 years.

However, in a unanimous judgement brought down yesterday and published on the Courts Queensland website, Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, Justice John Muir and Justice Margaret White dismissed the appeal, finding the sentence handed down by Judge Sarah Bradley was “supported by the comparable sentences” handed down in the past for like cases.

The Court of Appeal said due leniency had to be applied when sentencing offenders who admitted their guilt.

The ruling quoted passages from a previous judgement, which stated:

“An offender who pleads guilty saves the community the cost of a trial.

“In some kinds of case, particularly offences involving young persons, the offender’s pleas of guilty avoids the serious harm that may be done by requiring the victim to describe yet again, and thus relive, their part in the conduct that is to be punished.”

Byrnes was declared at sentence a serious violent offender, meaning he has to serve at least 80% of his 10-year term.

However, having served almost two years pre-sentence custody by the time he was sentenced, he will be eligible for release from prison in 2016.

10-year sentence sticks for teacher who molested schoolgirls

A TOOWOOMBA teacher who molested 13 schoolgirls escaped a higher sentence when the Court of Appeal today refused an application by the Attorney General to increase his 10 years jail time.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, who appeared for the then Attorney General Cameron Dick, had asked Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence be set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.

Mr Moynihan said the 10-year sentence failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.

He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.

However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his clients favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.

Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish free life and been a productive member of the community.

In an unanimous judgment the Court of Appeal dismissed the Attorney General’s appeal.

Justice John Muir said the mitigating circumstances, in particular Byrnes’ early guilty plea and his admissions to police, when combined with comparable cases relied on by the Attorney General, an increase in sentence was not warranted.

He said comparable sentences used by Mr Byrne had supported a 10-year sentence.

The Chief Justice Paul de Jersey and Justice Margaret White agreed the appeal should be dismissed.

In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape, and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.

Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and he must serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.

He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and ten, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.

The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.

Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal

You are here:  AustLII >> Databases >> Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal >> 2011 >> [2011] QCA 40

[Database Search] [Name Search] [Recent Decisions] [Noteup] [Download] [Help]

R v. Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2011] QCA 40 (11 March 2011)

Last Updated: 14 March 2011


CITATION: R v Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2011] QCA 40

BYRNES, Gerard Vincent




FILE NO/S: CA No 246 of 2010DC No 894 of 2009
DIVISION: Court of Appeal
PROCEEDING: Sentence Appeal by A-G (Qld)
ORIGINATING COURT: District Court at Toowoomba
DELIVERED ON: 11 March 2011
HEARING DATE: 17 February 2011
JUDGES: Chief Justice and Muir and White JJASeparate reasons for judgment of each member of the Court, each concurring as to the order made
ORDER: Appeal dismissed
CATCHWORDS: CRIMINAL LAW – APPEAL AND NEW TRIAL – APPEAL AGAINST SENTENCE – GROUNDS FOR INTERFERENCE – SENTENCE MANIFESTLY EXCESSIVE OR INADEQUATE – where respondent pleaded guilty to serious violent offences of a sexual nature against complainants under 12 years of age – where respondent sentenced to 10 years imprisonment – where appellant submitted that sentence failed to give weight to the seriousness of offending, number of complainants and position of authority of the respondent – whether sentence manifestly inadequateCriminal Code 1899 (Qld), s 669A

Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), s 161A, s 161B

AB v The Queen (1999) 198 CLR 111; [1999] HCA 46, cited

R v D [2003] QCA 88, distinguished

R v D’Arcy (2001) 122 A Crim R 268; [2001] QCA 325, considered

R v Ellis (1986) 6 NSWLR 603, cited

R v HAV [2009] QCA 259, followed

R v MBG & MBH [2009] QCA 252, distinguished

R v TS [2009] 2 Qd R 276; [2008] QCA 370, followed

R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld) [2009] QCA 249, distinguished

COUNSEL: A W Moynihan SC, with A D Anderson, for the appellantM J Byrne QC for the respondent
SOLICITORS: Director of Public Prosecutions (Queensland) for the appellantPeter Shields Lawyers for the respondent

[1] CHIEF JUSTICE: I have had the advantage of reading the reasons for judgment of Muir JA. I agree that the appeal should be dismissed, for those reasons.

[2] MUIR JA: Introduction The respondent pleaded guilty to one count of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, 10 counts of rape and 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 16 with the circumstance of aggravation that the complainant was under 12 years of age. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for each of the maintaining and rape offences and to seven years imprisonment for each of the indecent treatment offences. Each term of imprisonment was ordered to be served concurrently. By operation of ss 161A and 161B of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992 (Qld), the respondent was convicted of serious violent offences with the consequence that he was required to serve 80 per cent of the head sentence of 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.

[3] The appellant Attorney-General appealed on the grounds that the sentences imposed were inadequate.

The circumstances of the offending

[4] The subject offences were committed over a 23 month period by the 58/59 year old respondent on 13 female students in his grade 4 class at a Toowoomba school. As well as being his victims’ teacher, the respondent was one of the school’s two child protection officers. As such, he was held out as a person whose assistance students could seek with safety in the event of inappropriate conduct. All of the offences were committed at the school and all but two were committed during the conduct of a class.

[5] The respondent’s modus operandi was to call the intended victim to the front of the class room and, when marking her work or asking questions of her, cause her to sit on his lap or stand in front of him. He would then engage in the offending activity. Three of the indecent dealing counts involved the rubbing of girls’ chests under their blouses. Another three involved the placement of the respondent’s hand up the girls’ skirts and rubbing their legs below their underwear. Two such counts involved licking the vaginal regions of two girls. One girl was kissed on the lips. Three of the offences involved the feeling of girls’ buttocks under their underwear. Another three involved rubbing of girls’ genitalia outside their underwear and 15 of the counts involved the rubbing of buttocks outside of the girls’ underwear. The licking incidents occurred when the girls, having been asked to remain behind during morning tea, were alone in the classroom with the respondent.

[6] The digital penetrations are the subject of counts 7, 8, 9 and 12 on the indictment. Counts 10 and 11 relate to the indecent treatment of this complainant and count six is the maintaining count. It was constituted by the conduct the subject of the four rape counts, the indecent treatment counts and other uncharged acts. The six remaining counts of rape occurred when the respondent digitally penetrated the vaginas of five other children on separate occasions.

[7] One girl complained to the school principal on 6 September 2007 that the respondent had put his hand inside her shirt and up her skirt and that she had seen him kiss another girl on the cheek. The principal wrote to the respondent informing him of these allegations and inviting him to respond. The respondent did so on 20 September 2007 acknowledging that he kissed a child on the cheek and that girls in his class often sat on his knee. He denied the other allegations. The respondent erroneously assumed that a particular girl was the informant, and ceased offending against her. He continued to offend against the other girls including the girl who had actually complained. He also interfered with two girls who had not previously been subjected to his indecent acts.

[8] In November 2008, the complainant with whom the respondent had been maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship complained to her mother and the police were informed. The respondent participated in interviews with police in relation to the offences. He initially denied allegations made by some children but admitted offending conduct which had not been the subject of allegations by a complainant. Six of the 10 counts of rape were based solely on the respondent’s admissions.

The Sentencing Remarks

[9] In her sentencing remarks the sentencing judge referred to the position of trust held by the respondent, the distress experienced by some of the girls and to the continuation of the offending conduct after the initial complaint. The sentencing judge accepted that the remorse expressed by the respondent was genuine and noted that the respondent’s convictions on a number of the charges, including some of the more serious ones, were based on his admissions. It was accepted that the respondent’s imprisonment would be served in protective custody and that this would make incarceration more onerous than would otherwise be the case. Her honour took into account the age of the respondent and his previous good character.

[10] In determining the respondent’s sentence the primary judge derived assistance from R v D’Arcy [2001] QCA 325 in which the head sentence, imposed after a trial of offences against four complainants, which included three counts of penile rape, was reduced on appeal to 10 years imprisonment. The primary judge concluded that the starting point for determining the sentence should be 12 to 14 years imprisonment. She then took into account the plea of guilty, the respondent’s co-operation with the police and the respondent’s admissions and the other matters previously mentioned and arrived at sentences of 10 years for the maintaining and rape offences.

The Appellant’s Contentions

[11] Counsel for the appellant submitted that the head sentence of 10 years imprisonment failed to give sufficient weight to the serious nature of the offending, general deterrence, denunciation and protection of the community. It was submitted that the starting point adopted by the primary judge would have been appropriate for an offence of maintaining a sexual relationship with one child or a small group of children but not for offending on the subject scale by a teacher over a long period in respect of his own students.

[12] Reliance was placed on R v D,[1] R v MBG & MBH,[2] R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld)[3] and R v D’Arcy.[4]

[13] R v D was quite a different type of case to the present. The 40 year old offender who had a lengthy criminal history, not including convictions for sexual offences, succeeded in having a 12 year term of imprisonment for the rape of a five year old complainant set aside as being manifestly excessive. A sentence of 10 years imprisonment was substituted. The court did not interfere with a three year term of imprisonment imposed for deprivation of liberty. The complainant’s mother noticed that the complainant was missing and that the offender was no longer sitting in his back yard where she had previously seen him. She ran to the offender’s house, entered it and found the complainant naked on a bed with the applicant leaning over her, touching her vaginal area while holding down her legs. The complainant told her mother that she had not responded to her mother’s calls because of threats made by the offender that he would punish her.

[14] On medical inspection, the complainant’s hymen was found to be bruised and haemorrhaging was evident. The injuries were thought to be more consistent with digital than penile penetration. There was evidence that the complainant’s behaviour had changed since the offence and she slept with her mother most nights. Her sleep was interrupted and she was wary and distrustful of strangers.

[15] In R v MBG & MBH a sentence of 10 and a half years imprisonment imposed on a mother and father who pleaded guilty to maintaining a sexual relationship with their seven to eight year old daughter was not disturbed. The offenders also pleaded guilty to two counts of raping their daughter, one count of attempting to do so; 10 counts of indecently treating her; the rape of her nine year old friend; three counts of indecently treating that friend and indecent treatment of that friend’s sister.

[16] The offending conduct in respect of the complainant daughter occurred on about 100 occasions and included: an attempt by the male applicant to insert his penis into the complainant’s vagina; the performance of oral sex on the complainant by her parents and vice versa; the watching of pornographic films together; the applicants having sexual intercourse in front of the complainant; the complainants rubbing an object in her mother’s vaginal area; the placing of the male applicant’s semi erect penis inside the leg opening of the complainant’s underwear; and the application of a vibrator to the complainant’s genitalia.

[17] It was submitted that this decision demonstrated that the subject sentences were too low as there were only four female complainants. That case, however, involves not only more serious sexual acts but the protracted abuse and corruption of a young child by her natural parents. The moral culpability of the offenders in MBG & MBH, to my mind, was substantially greater than that of the respondent, appalling though his behaviour was in both its quality and extent. The sentencing judge justly observed that the respondent’s conduct involved a protracted and gross beach of trust.

[18] In R v ZA; ex parte A-G the nine and a half year sentence imposed on the 48 year old offender with a history of sexual offending against children was increased on appeal to 10 years, thereby attracting a serious violent offence declaration. The respondent committed 34 offences over a 15 month period against six boys aged between 10 and 15 years. The offences included: two counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child; two counts of sodomy with a circumstance of aggravation; 21 counts of indecent treatment of a child with a circumstance of aggravation; seven counts of indecent treatment of a child and two counts of attempting to procure a young person for carnal knowledge. As well as sodomy, the respondent’s conduct included the insertion of a vibrator into a complainant’s anus; fellatio on and by complainants and the showing of pornographic material including films involving bestiality. Again, the offending conduct was more extreme and corrupting than in the present case and it was perpetrated by an offender with a prior history of sexual offending.

[19] The remaining case relied on by the appellant was R v D’Arcy, in which the appellant offended against four young complainants, three girls and one a boy who were the appellant’s pupils when he was the principal of a one teacher school. The offences came to light many years after the event by which time the applicant was in his sixties and had significant health problems. His sentence was reduced from 14 years imprisonment to 10 years. The offending conduct was singularly grave. The appellant digitally penetrated one female complainant and rubbed his exposed penis up and down her body from her navel to her genitalia. Another female complainant was subjected to painful penile rape culminating in ejaculation on three occasions.


[20] Counsel for the respondent submitted that in D’Arcy the offending conduct was markedly more serious than the subject offending conduct and that there was a lack of a primary basis for mitigation. It was found in D’Arcy that the applicant exercised control over the children through fear and violence. There was a trial, no co-operation at the trial and an absence of remorse. The complainants were obliged to give evidence thus reliving their experiences. D’Arcy therefore does not support the appellant’s argument, even when regard is had to the far greater number of victims in the present case. In that regard it is relevant that the more serious offences were committed against relatively few complainants in the present case, making the circumstances more comparable with those in D’Arcy than mere reference to numbers would suggest.

[21] Counsel for the respondent submitted that the primary judge’s sentence was also supported by R v TS[5] and R v HAV.[6]

[22] In R v HAV the offender was sentenced after a trial to concurrent terms of imprisonment of 14 years for maintaining a sexual relationship with a child under 16 and rape. Concurrent terms of imprisonment of five years were imposed for six offences of indecent treatment of a child under 16. The primary judge found that the complainant was “to all intents and purposes” the offender’s step daughter and that the offender had sexually abused the complainant from when she was about seven until she was sixteen.

[23] The offending conduct was persistent and involved the offender’s masturbating in the presence of the complainant, masturbation of the offender by the complainant, cunnilingus, the dressing of the complainant in her mother’s underwear as an aid to the offender’s sexual gratification, penetration of the complainant’s anus with a finger and penile penetration of the complainant’s vagina. The abuse “had a significant impact” on the complainant and resulted in the breaking of the bond between mother and daughter.

[24] In R v TS the applicant, after guilty pleas, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, sodomy and rape of child who was his lineal descendant. Other sentences were imposed for offences of attempted rape and indecent treatment. On appeal, 12 year terms were substituted for the 20 year terms. The offences were committed over a six year period commencing when the victim was three years of age. The offences were “committed against the complainant at every available opportunity during the maintaining period” and continued until the complainant grew older and was able to resist the applicant’s advances. The conduct included vaginal intercourse, anal intercourse causing great pain and distress and forced fellatio. The period of maintaining in count 1 began when the complainant was under 10 and continued for six years.

[25] Both R v TS and R v HAV tend to support the subject sentence, as do R v MBG & MBH, R v ZA; ex parte A-G and R v D’Arcy. The submissions made on behalf of the appellant insufficiently acknowledged the combined effect of the respondent’s guilty pleas and his early admissions, without which some of the rape convictions would not have been secured.

[26] Of particular relevance for present purposes is the following passage from the reasons of Street CJ in R v Ellis,[7] quoted with approval by Hayne J in AB v The Queen:[8]

“This Court has said on a number of occasions that a plea of guilty will entitle a convicted person to an element of leniency in the sentence. The degree of leniency may vary according to the degree of inevitability of conviction as it may appear to the sentencing judge, but it is always a factor to which a greater or lesser degree of weight must be given.

When the conviction follows upon a plea of guilty, that itself is the result of a voluntary disclosure of guilt by the person concerned, a further element of leniency enters into the sentencing decision. Where it was unlikely that guilt would be discovered and established were it not for the disclosure by the person coming forward for sentence, then a considerable element of leniency should properly be extended by the sentencing judge. It is part of the policy of the criminal law to encourage a guilty person to come forward and disclose both the fact of an offence having been committed and confession of guilt of that offence.

The leniency that follows a confession of guilt in the form of a plea of guilty is a well recognised part of the body of principles that cover sentencing. Although less well recognised, because less frequently encountered, the disclosure of an otherwise unknown guilt of an offence merits a significant added element of leniency, the degree of which will vary according to the degree of likelihood of that guilt being discovered by the law enforcement authorities, as well as guilt being established against the person concerned.”

[27] Prior to quoting the above passage Hayne J made the following observations which are also of immediate relevance:

“Leniency is extended to both offenders for various reasons. By confessing, an offender may exhibit remorse or contrition. An offender who pleads guilty saves the community the cost of a trial. In some kinds of case, particularly offences involving young persons, the offender’s pleas of guilty avoids the serious harm that may be done by requiring the victim to describe yet again, and thus relive, their part in the conduct that is to be punished.”


[28] When regard is had to the mitigating factors taken into account by the primary judge and, in particular, the early guilty pleas and admissions, the comparable sentences relied on by counsel for the appellant do not support the imposition of higher sentences. On the other hand, the subject sentences are supported by the comparable sentences referred to by the respondent’s counsel. The appellant has failed to demonstrate any proper basis for the exercise by this Court of its discretion under s 669A(1) of the Criminal Code and I would order that the appeal be dismissed.

[29] WHITE JA: I have read the reasons for judgment of Muir JA and agree with his Honour for those reasons that the Attorney-General’s appeal should be dismissed.

[1] [2003] QCA 88.

[2] [2009] QCA 252.

[3] [2009] QCA 249.

[4] [2001] QCA 325; (2001) 122 A Crim R 268.

[5] [2008] QCA 370; [2009] 2 Qd R 276.

[6] [2009] QCA 259.

[7] (1986) 6 NSWLR 603 at 604.

[8] [1999] HCA 46; (1999) 198 CLR 111 at 155, 156.

Former Catholic teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes gets 10 years for abuse of young schoolgirls

A 10-year jail sentence for a Catholic teacher and child protection officer did not reflect the enormity of the grand scale of his sexual misconduct with 13 young schoolgirls, a court heard today.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, was making submissions to the Court of Appeal in an effort to have Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.

Mr Moynihan was appearing for the Attroney General, Cameron Dick, who had appealed the 10-year sentence on the grounds it failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.

In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.

Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and will have to serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.

He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.

Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and 10, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.

The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.

In the Court of Appeal today, Mr Moynihan said Byrnes’ offences, which had devastated both the victims and their families, should have brought a sentence at the higher end of the 10 to 15 year range.

“The sentence does not reflect the enormity of his offending of sexual misdconduct on a grand scale involving 13 girls,” Mr Moynihan said.

He said Byrnes maintained a sexual relationsip with one girl, raped five others and indecently dealt with seven others.

Mr Moynihan said the offences extended over two years during which Byrnes was the school’s child protection officer.

He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.

However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his client’s favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.

Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish-free life and been a productive member of the community.

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.

Court to hear rape sentence too lenient

17th February 2011

QUEENSLAND’S Court of Appeal will today hear legal argument that the sentence handed down to pedophile Toowoomba school teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes was too lenient.

Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty before Toowoomba District Court last year to 10 counts of rape, 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a child.

All 13 of his victims were girls aged nine or 10 and members of his Year 4 class at a Catholic primary school in Toowoomba.

The offences occurred in the class room environment in 2007 and 2008 at a time when Byrnes was the school’s designated Child Protection Officer.

He was sentenced on October 4 last year to 10 years jail of which he was ordered to serve eight years.

However, because he had already served 23 months in pre-sentence custody, Byrnes could be released from prison within six years of his sentence date.

Attorney General Cameron Dick, after taking legal advice, appealed the sentence on the grounds it was manifestly inadequate.

Queensland Attorney-General to appeal child rapist Gerard Vincent Byrnes’ eight-year term

  • From:AAP
  • October 22, 2010 2:11PM

THE Queensland government will appeal a 10-year sentence given to a staff member found guilty of the rape and sexual abuse of students in his care at a Toowoomba school.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty in April to 44 charges – 33 of indecent treatment of a child under 16, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining an unlawful relationship with a child.

The incidents occurred while Byrnes was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.

Byrnes was sentenced to serve eight years behind bars before being eligible for parole.

Having served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody, he could have been released in 2016.

Attorney-General Cameron Dick announced today he would appeal the sentence.

“Today I have lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane against the sentence imposed on Gerard Vincent Byrnes for the offences of rape, maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, and indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16,” Mr Dick said in a statement.

He said the grounds of the appeal are that the sentence fails to reflect the gravity of the offence, that it fails to act as a sufficient deterrent, and that the sentencing judge gave too much weight to factors of mitigation.

“I will not be making any further comment as the matter is now before the courts,” Mr Dick said.

The court will set the date for the appeal.

Teacher sentenced to jail for rape of students

By Sam Burgess

Updated 5 hours 28 minutes ago

A southern Queensland primary school teacher who raped and molested 13 of his students has been sentenced to at least eight years in jail.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a student.

The incidents occurred while he was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.

In the Toowoomba District Court today, Judge Sarah Bradley sentenced him to 10 years in jail.

He must serve at least 80 per cent of that time.

Appeal demanded

Queensland Opposition Deputy Leader Lawrence Springborg has called on Attorney-General Cameron Dick to appeal against the sentence.

He says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and clearly out of step with community expectations.

Mr Springborg says Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim and the Attorney-General must appeal.

Teacher’s rape sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’

By Chris O’Brien and Sam Burgess

Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago

The Queensland Opposition has called on the Attorney-General to appeal the sentence for a Toowoomba teacher who raped and molested 13 students.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for 44 sex offences.

Byrnes must serve at least eight years, but with time already served he could be eligible for parole in just over six.

Opposition Justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim.

“This sentence is clearly out of step with community expectations and the Attorney-General must appeal,” he said.

“I think we had the prosecutor arguing that there should be a starting point of about 18 years and no less than 14 years.

“Certainly if you look at this sentence a lot of Queenslanders would justifiably be shaking their head.

“What we need is some real serious reform of sentencing laws.”

The court heard Byrnes, who was also the school’s child protection officer, committed the offences after asking the female victims to come to the front of the class to sit on his lap.

He also molested the girls during lunch breaks.

The court heard Byrnes was quizzed by the school’s principal about inappropriate contact with pupils but denied the allegations and continued to commit acts, including digital rape, against the girls.

Toowoomba Catholic Bishop William Morris says he hopes the sentence will start to provide some closure for the victims and their families.

“Until the sentencing has happened, even though he pleaded guilty, and then they had to wait, and it’s been deferred and so on, I think this is one step in the process of hopefully getting normality back into people’s lives,” he said.

“[It's] a step along the way of the healing of the victims and their families.”

Bishop to meet with families

Jim Campbell | 13th August 2010

THE families of two young victims of the horrific sexual abuse scandal at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school have supported the family of another victim who say they have been forced out of town.

The Chronicle ran a front page story in yesterday’s edition telling the family’s heart-breaking story.

The father of the young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, explained the anguish his family had been put through and the lack of support they had been shown by the school.

A parent of another victim contacted The Chronicle yesterday to show support for the devastated family. “We understand your devastation and hope that you gain some strength from knowing there are people who are willing to stand side by side with you through the most challenging of times,” they wrote.

“The families involved have shown incredible courage and resilience in spite of ignorance and ‘blind faith’ being exhibited in a very public way by certain sections of the community.

“As a parent of one of the victims, we have also chosen to relocate to try and protect our family from unwanted exposure.”

Finally, they wrote: “The pain this one man has caused is unimaginable and will remain with us for the rest of our lives.”

Toowoomba Catholic Diocese leader Bishop William Morris also issued a statement in response to the family’s claims, saying the diocese had “maintained a constant flow of communication with the school community and has offered counselling and other pastoral support” over the past two years.

“Parents and the diocese place a great deal of trust in teachers to care for children under their supervision and the actions of Gerard Byrnes were a shocking betrayal of that trust,” Bishop Morris said.

“I can only begin to imagine the suffering which has been experienced by the victims and their families, including the one referred to in the Toowoomba Chronicle (yesterday).

“Although I of course would have preferred to have directly communicated with the victims and their families sooner, the diocese was unable to do so until April this year, due to not wanting to interfere in any way with the police investigation and subsequent criminal court proceedings.

“Gerard Byrnes’ guilty plea in the Toowoomba District Court in April meant the diocese was for the first time able to directly communicate with the victim’s parents, which I did so via a letter to each parent.

“I believed a letter to the victims offering a face-to-face meeting was a more respectful way of making contact, rather than an unannounced phone call.

“. . . I offered a face-to-face meeting and I indicated I would very much like this to occur so that I could apologise personally.”

Bishop Morris said that invitation remained open and he would particularly encourage the family who spoke out in The Chronicle to contact him.

He said he wrote to the families who had not yet pursued legal claims, inviting them to participate in the mediation process that will follow Bishop Morris’ admission of liability in July.

He also said the diocese had comprehensive procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and that at the beginning of 2010, it appointed a full-time Diocesan Student Protection Officer, who is working with Toowoomba Catholic Education personnel to “heighten their vigilance for child protection surveillance”.

Family forced to leave city

Jim Campbell | 12th August 2010

THE family of a young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher at a Toowoomba primary school say they have been ostracised and forced out of the city they once loved.

The girl’s distraught father told The Chronicle his family had been so devastated by the horrific crimes against his daughter they were leaving Toowoomba to try to piece their lives back together.

Legal action is about to be launched on behalf of the family against the Catholic Church which has admitted liability for the numerous acts of sexual assault against children at the school.

Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting children, 10 counts of raping children and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September, 2008.

The father of the young girl who will now take his daughter to a new life remembers clearly the day he first learned of the horror she went through at just eight-years-old.

It was November, 2008, and it was his wife’s birthday.

The man received a phone call from a police officer and was asked to take his daughter to Toowoomba station for questioning.

“She was fully shocked by the police interview — after that she cried a lot,” the father remembered.

He said the ongoing trauma had put terrible strain on his family, his work and his relationship with his wife.

But despite what had happened, the man said he hadn’t received a single phone call from his daughter’s school, just one generalised letter offering counselling and a series of letters from the Catholic Church as legal proceedings progressed.

“To be honest, I expected a phone call from the school,” he said.

“I am angry and upset with the school and the Catholic Education (office) because they are responsible.

“That creature was the child protection officer and he did those things to all those kids.”

The family’s lawyer, Roger Singh, a partner at Shine Lawyers, said they deserved to be compensated for the horror they had been put through.

“The aim is to bring the church to account and that we will do,” he said.

Law firm Slater and Gordon is also pursuing legal action on behalf of five families of children who were assaulted.

The principal of the school at the time and two of his superiors were sacked in December last year as a result of the sex abuse scandal.

Byrnes is due to be sentenced on October 4.

Pedophile Byrnes faces sentencing

Peter Hardwick | 24th July 2010

PEDOPHILE schoolteacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes will be sentenced in Toowoomba District Court on October 4.

Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty on April 14 to 10 counts of raping girls under 12, 33 counts of molesting girls under 12 and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls, all students of his at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school, between January, 2007, and September, 2008.

However, Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence when a medical report surfaced claiming Byrnes might have the onset of dementia which could affect the penalty imposed.

Judge Richards ordered that a neurologist’s report be compiled and put before the court.

The delay caused even more angst for the families of the victims, many of whom had attended court that day in the hope that Byrnes’ final sentencing might give them some closure and the healing process commenced.

During a mention of the matter before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Byrnes’ solicitor Nathan Bouchier told Judge Richards that all reports had been received and the matter could now be set down for sentence.

However, Mr Bouchier said counsel briefed in the matter, Mr Brad Farr, was unavailable until the October sittings of the District Court in Toowoomba and asked that sentence be adjourned to those sittings.

Crown prosecutor Shontelle Kenny asked that the sentence date be set as early as possible out of respect for the victims’ families.

Accepting that Mr Farr should be present to represent Byrnes, Judge Richards adjourned sentence to Monday, October 4.

 Delays frustrate victims’ families:Sentencing of paedophile adjourned again

Peter Hardwick.  The Chronicle.  Toowoomba, Qld.:Jun 5, 2010.  p. 5

THERE was further frustration for the families of the child victims of Gerard Vincent Byrnes yesterday with the pedophile school teacher’s sentence adjourned again in Toowoomba District Court. Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting girls under

12 years of age, 10 counts of raping girls under 12, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.

The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September,2008.

Byrnes was the school’s designated child-protection officer at the time.

He was due to be sentenced in April, but that hearing was adjourned after his legal team produced a psychiatric report suggesting Byrnes might have the onset of dementia.

Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence until June 18 so a neurologist could examine all the medical material and report back to the court.

However, during a call-over of matters before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Judge Richards was told the neurologist’s report might not be available by June 18.Judge Richards therefore delisted the sentence and adjourned proceedings for mention back in the same court on June 25 when a new date for sentence was expected to be set.Byrnes was remanded in custody.

Teacher Gerard Byrnes admits 44 counts of child sex abuse

  • From: The Australian
  • April 15, 2010 3:22AM
  • Teacher admits 44 sex abuse charges
  • More victims expected to come forward
  • Parents demand church hold inquiry

POLICE have warned the Catholic Church to expect more cases of child sex abuse to emerge from six schools that employed a veteran teacher who yesterday pleaded guilty to abusing 13 schoolgirls.

Former Christian brother Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, admitted to 44 sex abuse charges concerning students at a Toowoomba primary school, where he also served as the child protection officer.

Among them were 10 counts of raping a child under 12.

In court documents, Queensland police said they expected more victims to come forward now that Byrnes, who taught at six other Catholic schools in Sydney and Queensland, had been publicly identified.

“It is unknown how many other complainant children there are in the community as the defendant has had a long, 39-year teaching career,” police investigators said in an affidavit.

“Police expect that once this matter is before the court and the defendant is later recognised through the media, that further, more historical complainants will present with allegations of abuse of a similar nature as those of the current complainant children.”

Parents of some of the Toowoomba victims – all girls – yesterday demanded an open inquiry by the church into the past behaviour of the father of eight.

“It is what we have wanted all along, for the church to be open and honest about this person and his history as a teacher and principal,” one mother told The Australian.

“There are a lot of questions about his past. The church already failed to act when the first victim came to them, and more children were abused.”

Toowoomba bishop William Morris, who last year sacked the primary school’s principal and two senior Catholic Education officials for failing to act on a complaint by one of the first victims, said he would now inform his counterparts in the three other dioceses where Byrnes had taught, “to ensure they are fully informed in relation to this matter”.

Byrnes taught at Sydney’s St Pius X secondary school between 1970 and 1976, before moving to the Gold Coast, where he taught at Aquinas Secondary School.

He was then made deputy principal at Our Lady College, Longreach, before becoming headmaster in 1992 at St Joseph’s Primary School, Tara, and in 1994 being appointed headmaster at St Mary’s Primary School in Charleville.

In 1997, he went back to teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Toowoomba before moving in 2001 to the school, which cannot be named, where he committed the offences.

A psychiatric assessment, conducted soon after Byrnes’s arrest in November 2008, described the once-popular teacher as having no “reaction of distress or of personal concern” about the allegations against him.

Byrnes’s sentencing for the sex offences was yesterday adjourned for a neurological assessment amid conflicting psychologists’ reports. One claimed he showed onset of dementia.

Last year, the principal of the Toowoomba school became the first person in Australia, and among only a handful worldwide, to be charged under laws mandating the reporting to police of any suspicions of sexual abuse involving a child.

Police launched the investigation into the school’s handling of the case after a series of reports by The Australian revealed the principal had failed to act on complaints in September 2007 from parents of a nine-year-old child about her abuse.

At the time there were other complaints from staff about the teacher’s behaviour, including his growing notoriety for enticing children to sit on his lap with the offer of lollies.

The principal later admitted it was then that he “reasonably suspected” the teacher had sexually abused at least one child and that he failed to tell police.

Read more on Gerard Byrne’s crimes at The Australian.


Crime syndicate smashed by NSW police in $15m drug haul

Another one bites the dust, I love this news, it means less poison drugs containing who knows what is off our streets and not in our kids bodies. The one crap thing is we have very weak sentencing here for drug offenses, this strike force is ongoing with more arrests, get ready for the tap on the shoulder or guns in your faces boys!

One of the three men arrested at Gundagai yesterday

One of the three men arrested at Gundagai yesterday

Police say they have arrested 12 people over a $15-million drug haul seized in southern New South Wales.

Detectives began investigating what they have described as a major drug supply syndicate in 2012, forming Strike Force Oceanic.

They say the group has been producing and selling massive quantities of cannabis and the drug ice throughout the state’s south.

Police say the nine kilograms of ice seized would be worth around $9 million on the street.

Police say the nine kilograms of ice seized would be worth around $9 million on the street.


p>Officers pounced yesterday, arresting three men and allegedly seizing nine kilograms of ice, with an estimated street value of $9 million, in a raid at Gundagai.

Luigi Gino Fato, 62, and 40-year-old Hank Peter Pickett appeared briefly on serious drug charges in Wagga Wagga Local Court this morning.

No bail application was made and both men will remain in custody until they appear in Batemans Bay Local Court later this month.

The third man, a 63-year-old from Malua Bay, is yet to appear in court.

Detectives say the men are key players in the syndicate.

Police also raided another 11 properties yesterday in Sydney, Canberra and near Griffith, Cowra and Batemans Bay.

At a rural property at Crowther south of Cowra about 2,750 cannabis plants, with an estimated value of $5.5 million, were allegedly discovered.

Wagga Wagga Local Court heard this morning that Young Police Station is having difficulty storing such a large quantity of the drug.

Officers also seized seven guns, 60 kilograms of gunpowder, 90,000 rounds of ammunition and a number of vehicles, machines and documents during the raids.

A 36-year-old man was arrested at Sans Souci in Sydney’s south and charged with enhanced indoor cultivation that exposes a child over a hydroponic cannabis set-up allegedly found in the home.

He was then released on bail to face Kogarah Local Court next month.

In the nearby suburb of Miranda another man, also 36, was arrested and charged with enhanced indoor cultivation and drug possession.

He is free on bail and is due to face Sutherland Local Court next month.

A 40-year-old man was arrested in the ACT suburb of Palmerston and charged with drug supply offences.

He faced Queanbeyan Local Court yesterday.

A 46-year-old arrested at a Batemans Bay home was charged with drug supply.

He is being held in custody to face Narooma Local Court today.

Five other people had already charged over the syndicate before yesterday’s raids.

Five charged after meth valued at $180 million found in kayaks

February 12, 2014

POLICE have charged five people in Sydney over the importation of an estimated $180 million worth of methamphetamine concealed inside kayaks sent from China.

Customs allegedly found about 183kg of the illegal drug on Wednesday last week after X-raying 27 kayaks that had entered Australia.

The tests showed 19 of the kayaks contained packages with methamphetamine inside.

Concealed ... one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Concealed … one of the imported kayaks carrying the meth into Australia.

Australian Federal Police on Tuesday allowed the kayaks to be delivered to a Sydney storage facility, where they arrested four Taiwanese nationals.

Three of the men, aged 21, 30 and 35, were charged with possessing a commercial quantity of drugs and the fourth, a 28-year-old woman, was charged with drug importation.

Police later arrested a 32-year-old Kensington man at his home and charged him with attempting to import the drugs.

Customs regional director Tim Fitzgerald said the 183kg of crystal meth was found in watertight areas inside the kayaks.

There were also a number of life jackets inside the boats that may have been put there to misdirect the attention of any searches, he added.

“It’s fair to say that any item coming into Australia can be used to hide narcotics,’’ he told reporters in Sydney today.

“Previously through airports, we’ve seen narcotics concealed inside surfboards.”

Mr Fitzgerald said that in the past 14 months, Customs had found more than 1000kg of meth in liquid and crystal form.

He said the drug was a “significant problem’’ for border protection authorities and a significant amount came from China.

Australian Federal Police Sydney manager Ray Johnson said people accused of drug hauls of the amount found in the kayaks could expect to face around 15 years in jail if found guilty.

The kayaks were inspected at the Sydney Container Examination Facility.

David John Alton, 32, who was charged with importing a commercial quantity of drugs, appeared before Sydney’s Central Local Court today and was refused bail.

The matter was adjourned until April 9 before the same court.

Meng-Chih Shih, 30, Zhao Xiung Huang, 35, and Chien Khih Kuo, 21, also appeared before Central Local Court today and had their bail formally refused.

Court documents show the men resided in the same Sydney CBD address.

Chieh-Wei Lin, 28, from another Sydney CBD address, also had her bail refused.

They are all due to return to court on April 9.

Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison today congratulated Customs for preventing the methamphetamine from reaching the streets.

He said the Federal Government had provided $88 million of additional funding to Customs to increase screening of international mail, air cargo and sea cargo to stop illegal firearms and drugs getting in.

“Inspection rates of international mail and air cargo will increase by 25 and 33 per cent respectively and the examination of sea cargo in the major ports of Sydney and Melbourne will increase by nearly 20 per cent,’’ the minister said in a statement.

That would result in an additional 1500 containers being physically examined by Customs officers, he said.



Wealthy businessman Brian Vincent Attwell sentenced to 8 years for hitman plot to have his estranged daughter-in-law murdered.

Brian Vincent Attwell, 74, was in November found guilty by a jury of the rare offence of attempting to procure the commission of a crime, following a five-day trial in the Albany Justice Complex.

Brian Vincent Attwell was motivated by sheer hatred, the prosecutor said.

Brian Vincent Attwell was motivated by sheer hatred, the prosecutor said.

The court heard the accused had asked a truck driver, who approached him desperate for work with his civil contracting company AD Contractors, to kill 50-year-old Michelle Patreena Attwell after becoming frustrated with a protracted, bitter legal dispute between her and his son following the breakdown of their marriage.

The driver informed police, who instructed him to set up a meeting between Attwell and an undercover policeman.

Attwell met the policeman twice at a beach near the woman’s home and paid $10,000 in two instalments as a down payment on a $30,000 job, telling the officer to bind her in duct tape, strangle her and bury her in a 30-foot hole dug by an excavator.

During the trial, Attwell argued his comments were “huff and puff”, while defence lawyer Tom Percy said his client was “a crotchety old bugger” and “a classic grumpy old man”, but he was not homicidal.

On Tuesday, Supreme Court of Western Australia Justice Ralph Simmonds said a term of immediate imprisonment was appropriate for such a serious offence.

“I consider this to be a serious example of a serious offence,” Justice Simmonds said.

He ruled that the maximum sentence for the offence was life imprisonment, not 14 years as contended by the defence.

Attwell will be eligible for parole after serving six years and six months in jail.

He spent more than six months in remand, meaning he’ll be 80 before he can be considered for release.

Justice Simmonds said aggravating factors included elements of premeditation and planning.

While that was unsophisticated, “there was calculation”, Justice Simmonds said.

Another aggravating factor was that Attwell had paid “a not insignificant sum”.

Referring to Ms Attwell’s victim impact statement, Justice Simmonds said she had suffered continuing trauma from her ordeal, including feeling vulnerable, losing sleep, a disrupted eating pattern, and fears for her children’s safety.

The court heard during sentencing submissions on Friday that she had been immensely frightened – not even even listening to music so she could hear if someone was approaching her house.

Justice Simmonds said Attwell had been held in high regard in the Albany community, where he was known for his generosity and successful business, but he had shown no remorse and no empathy towards his intended victim.

Albany businessman Brian Attwell was found guilty of trying to hire a hitman to kill his daughter-in-law.

Albany businessman Brian Attwell was found guilty of trying to hire a hitman to kill his daughter-in-law.

Justice Simmonds said he had taken into account Attwell’s ill physical health, with the frail diabetic suffering from limited mobility, however that could be satisfactorily managed in prison.

Attwell said via video link from Albany that he was “not very happy” and intended to appeal.

Well known WA sentenced to eight years and six months in jail, for attempting to hire a hitman to have his estranged daughter-in-law murdered.

Brian Vincent Attwell was found guilty last November of attempting to procure the murder of Michelle Patreena Attwell, the former wife of his son.

The 74-year-old from Albany was found to have paid $10,000 to an undercover police officer, posing as a hitman, to have the woman killed.

The court heard Attwell was angry over legal action after his son’s divorce and he was motivated by “sheer hatred” of Michelle Attwell.

The trial was played recordings of the businessman saying his daughter-in-law had cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars through Family Court proceedings, and he wanted her “strangled and buried”.

Justice Ralph Simmonds said Attwell had not accepted responsibility for his actions or shown any empathy or remorse.

He said Attwell’s offending was serious, aggravated by premeditation and planning, and he had behaved in a calculated way.

The judge said while he accepted time in custody would have a significant effect on Attwell, he said the seriousness of the offense was a stronger sentencing factor.

Justice Simmonds said the victim had suffered through “a loss of sleep, significant fear and difficulties returning to a normal life”.

Brian Attwell appeared via videolink from the prison.

Brian Attwell appeared via videolink from the prison.










After the verdict, Attwell told the judge he was “not very happy” and he planned to appeal.

Attwell said there were “anomalies in the courtroom” during the trial, which he said affected the way it played out.

Police interview reveals motive

An interview with police on the day he was arrested revealed Attwell admitted to meeting a man he knew only as Josh and paying him $2,000 to “do some investigations”.

The businessman was asked if he had requested Josh to kill his daughter-in-law, which he denied.

“I wouldn’t say ‘kill Michelle’, I’d say ‘bring her to her bloody senses’. Killing her would be a bit rich,” Attwell said.

“[Killing someone] is obviously not the right thing to do.”

But Attwell also described his daughter-in-law as a “nuisance to society”, “a bloody animal” and “a maggot” who he wanted “put to sleep” and “got rid of”.

He also said “there were about 40 blokes who would like to get hold of” Mrs Attwell.

During the trial, Detective First Class Constable Jon MacMillan testified that a police search of the businessman’s vehicle found a news article from the coverage of Lloyd Rayney‘s murder trial.

Mr Rayney was tried and acquitted of murdering his wife Corryn in November 2012.

Constable MacMillan told the court the article detailed evidence on Mrs Rayney’s body being exhumed from its Kings Park burial.

The officer also said police found a wooden axe handle in the vehicle and “a significant quantity” of cash in another premises that was searched.

Defence counsel Tom Percy argued his client’s statements that he wanted Mrs Attwell killed were “puff” and “an exaggeration”.

He told the jury Attwell had paid the officer to “keep his options open” but had no desire to have his daughter-in-law killed.

Part of the trial was held behind closed doors to allow a police officer, identified only as Officer 429, to testify.

Attwell will be eligible for parole after six years and six months, while the sentence was backdated to last August due to time spent in custody during the trial.

The earliest he can be released is early in 2020.

Albany businessman Brian Vincent Attwell found guilty of attempting to hire hit man to murder daughter-in-law Michelle Patreena Attwell

Updated Fri 29 Nov 2013,

A prominent Albany businessman has been found guilty of attempting to hire a hit man to murder his estranged daughter-in-law.

Brian Vincent Attwell was on trial in the Supreme Court in Albany, accused of paying $10,000 to an undercover police officer, posing as a hit man, to kill Michelle Patreena Attwell.

During the trial, prosecutor James McTaggart told the court Attwell was motivated by “sheer hatred” for the woman and told the “hit man” he wanted her strangled and then buried in a hole.

The court heard Attwell’s interview with police on the day he was arrested, in September last year.

In that interview, the accused admitted to meeting a man he knew only as Josh, and paying him $2,000 to “do some investigations”.

Attwell was asked if he had asked Josh to kill the woman, which he denied.

“I wouldn’t say ‘kill Michelle’; I’d say ‘bring her to her bloody senses’. Killing her would be a bit rich,” Attwell said in the interview.

“[Killing someone] is obviously not the right thing to do.”

But Attwell also described the woman as a “nuisance to society”, “a bloody animal” and “a maggot” who he wanted “put to sleep” and “got rid of”.

He also said “there were about 40 blokes who’d like to get hold of” Ms Attwell.

Trial told daughter-in-law cost hundreds of thousands

The trial was also played recordings of Attwell saying Ms Attwell had cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars and he wanted her “strangled and buried”, which prosecutor James MacTaggart has argued was his intention in paying the undercover officer.

Detective First Class Constable Jon MacMillan testified that a police search of the businessman’s vehicle found a news article from the coverage of Lloyd Rayney’s murder trial.

Mr Rayney was tried and acquitted of murdering his wife, Corryn, in a high-profile case in Perth.

Constable MacMillan told the court the article detailed evidence on Ms Rayney’s body being exhumed from its Kings Park burial site.

The officer also testified that police found a wooden axe handle in the vehicle and “a significant quantity” of cash in another premises which was searched.

Attwell denies the accusation he was attempting to have Ms Attwell killed, with his defence counsel Tom Percy arguing his client’s statements along those lines were “puff” and “an exaggeration”.

Mr Percy told the jury Attwell had paid the officer to “keep his options open” but had no desire to have his estranged daughter-in-law killed.

Part of the trial was held behind closed doors to allow a police officer, identified only as Officer 429, to testify.

Attwell was found guilty by a jury and is due to be sentenced in January.

A prominent Albany businessman accused of trying to hire a hitman to kill a woman has been committed to stand trial.

Brian Vincent Attwell, 73, appeared in the Stirling Gardens Magistrate’s Court today via video link from the Albany courthouse.

The earthmoving business owner is charged with attempting to procure the commission of murder.

The court was told Mr Attwell, who was recently released on bail that includes strict conditions such as a $500,000 personal undertaking with a similar surety and a $100,000 cash deposit, intends to plead not guilty.

It is uncertain at this stage whether the trial would be held in Perth or Albany, with the court told Mr Attwell’s defence keen to have the case heard in the Great Southern city.

Magistrate Jan Whitbread committed Mr Attwell to stand trial and adjourned the case for a first appearance in the Perth Supreme Court next month.

The identity of the alleged victim remains suppressed.

The court has previously been told Mr Attwell allegedly paid $10,000 to a man, who unbeknownst to him was an undercover police officer, to kill a woman.

He allegedly requested the woman be strangled to avoid any blood being spilt and said he would use his work equipment to dig a 30-foot grave.


04/02/14 UPDATE FOR DAY 2

ALLISON Baden-Clay went to see a family counsellor about her husband’s three-year affair with a staff member, a court has been told today.

Gerard Baden-Clay, charged with the Murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay

Gerard Baden-Clay, charged with the Murder of his wife Allison Baden-Clay

The Brookfield mum also detailed her history of depression to the counsellor, the court was told at a pre-trial hearing.

The routine hearing is to resolve legal issues ahead of the Gerard Baden-Clay’s upcoming murder trial in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Allison told the counsellor her husband Gerard’s attitude to the depression was that he was “over it” and that it had contributed to the affair, the court was told.

The court heard the counsellor later had a separate session with Gerard where he said he wanted to leave the affair in the past but reluctantly agreed to 15-minute discussions with his wife every second night.

Baden-Clay reported his wife missing on April 20, 2012. He has been charged with her murder and is due to face trial in June.

Relationships Australia counsellor Carmel Ritchie told the court the first session with Allison was at Spring Hill on March 27, 2012, and lasted about an hour.

Allison described herself as a mother of three who worked with her husband’s real estate agency four days a week, Ms Ritchie told the court.

She told the counsellor that after taking malaria medication on her honeymoon she had a “very severe reaction” and suffered chronic depression and “psychotic episodes”.

She had seen a psychologist during her second pregnancy and had been on and off medication ever since.

Allison said her husband had an affair for three years and at least partly blamed her depression, Ms Richie said.

Asked to describe her problems in a few words she told the counsellor: “Inadequate. Not good enough. Believe I let it happen. Gerard’s way is the right way. Gerard had an affair for the last three years. Parenting, Gerard criticises me. Fear that one day he will leave me”.

Allison told the counsellor she wanted to “work on me” and sort out issues with parenting, the court was told.

Allison found out about Gerard’s affair on September 14, 2011, Ms Ritchie said.

The affair started on August 27, 2008, four days after Gerard and Allison’s own anniversary, the counsellor said.

Ms Ritchie said Allison told her: “I confronted him. He is now honest and takes responsibility. He blames me for some of it, the depression.”

Allison said that two years ago on their anniversary she surprised Gerard by asking: “What’s wrong with us?”

She told the counsellor Gerard replied: “I’ve had enough. I want to leave.”

Allison said she put it down to a midlife crisis.

Allison said Gerard’s personality was “ambitious and leader like” and he had high expectations of her and the children, Ms Richie told the court.

She told the counsellor her father felt as though “he was controlling her”, the court was told.

In her case notes, the counsellor wrote her opinion that Allison was a “conflict avoider who has said yes too many times in the relationship”.

To Gerard, Allison was not the girl he married, while Gerard had changed to a “look after myself” attitude, the court was told.

Ms Ritchie said she told Allison at the end of the session she could bring Gerard to the next session if she wanted.

Allison said she did not believe Gerard would want to come.

However at the next appointment on April 16, 2012, both Allison and Gerard were in the waiting room.

Ms Ritchie told the court she took Gerard into her room on his own at first. She said she had planned to spend half the hour-long session with him and then see them both together, but the session with Gerard went for most of the hour.

“I was surprised to see Gerard there as well. That was because Allison thought he would not come,” Ms Ritchie told the court.

The session, at Kenmore, was four days before Baden-Clay reported his wife missing.

Ms Ritchie said she took a standard 60-second snapshot with Gerard, but he didn’t say much about himself personally, talking instead about his work and achievements.

The court heard that after further questions Gerard told the counsellor: “Allison does not trust me. She questions me. She says yes when she means no.”

He told the counsellor of Allison’s disappointment with her life and that he used to blame his wife for disappointments in his own life, the court was told.

He said he attended the session because Allison wanted him to.

He wanted to “build a future” with his wife and to leave the affair behind him and thought discussing the affair with Allison was a regression, Ms Ritchie told the court.

“He wants to get on with life. Wipe it clean,” the counsellor said she wrote in her notes from the session.

“He needs to accept seven or eight months is very early days yet and to ‘steel’ himself for the long haul.”

Ms Ritchie told the court she advised Baden-Clay he could not ignore his wife’s feelings about the affair.

“I spoke about the fact he did have to sit and listen to Allison’s feelings about the affair.

“I told him that he can’t put this in the past because for Allison that past is very much in the present.”

Gerard did not want to take the advice.

“Isn’t that regression? Isn’t that living in the past?” he asked.

They went back and forth until “eventually he agreed”.

Ms Ritchie said she told Gerard to listen to Allison for 10 to 15 minutes every second night. She said she “always” limited such talks because they were “highly emotional”.

Gerard’s role was to “simply listen … absolutely not be defensive” and at the end to express remorse if that was how he felt.

Ms Ritchie told the court she went outside to get Allison from the waiting room and apologised for taking so long with her husband.

“Her face broke into a smile and she said ‘I’m over the moon you have spent this time with him’.”

Ms Ritchie said when she was back in the room with both Baden-Clay and his wife she went over the plan for the 10 to 15-minute talks, which were to continue until the next session in a week or two.

“I saw her say to Gerard ‘I am over the moon that you have spent this time’. But it was a defensive, hurt way that she was saying it.”

Asked in court about Allison’s mood, she said: “I think she was very pleased to introduce me to Gerard. She was smiling.”

Ms Ritchie added that Gerard discussed his roles in the school P&C and the local chamber of commerce.

“For Gerard, his image in the community is very important…He believes he is a valuable member of society,” the counsellor said she wrote in her notes.

The next session was never booked, with Baden-Clay reporting his wife missing on the Friday of that week.

Barrister Michael Byrne QC, for Baden-Clay, put to the witness that Allison’s depression and early panic attacks went back to taking the malaria medication during her honeymoon and to her pregnancy with the couple’s first child, who was born in 2001.

Mr Byrne said between Allison’s discovery of the affair and the first session with the counsellor Baden-Clay had “reached the point where he was honest and was taking responsibility”.

“His attitude to the affair is to wipe it clean and get on with life. What she’s saying to you there was put the past behind them put the affair out of life and move on as a couple,” Mr Byrne said.

Ms Ritchie agreed Allison wanted to move on as a couple.

03/02/14 Not much to report from today’s hearing, day 1 of 2

ACCUSED wife murderer Gerard Baden-Clay returned to court in Brisbane on Monday for legal argument ahead of his upcoming trial.

Scratches on the accused, Gerard Baden-Clay.

Scratches on the accused, Gerard Baden-Clay.

The routine hearing to determine which evidence can be put before a jury is scheduled to run for two days in the Brisbane Supreme Court.

Dressed in a dark suit and wearing a tie, the 43-year-old former real estate agent watched proceedings from the dock.

The court heard from the pathologist who carried out Allison Baden-Clay’s post-mortem examination.

Legal argument centred on the admissibility of parts of his evidence, and that of medical experts who assessed scratches and other marks found on Baden-Clay following his wife’s disappearance.

The couple’s former family counsellor is expected to give evidence in court for the first time when the hearing resumes on Tuesday.

Mrs Baden-Clay, 43, was reported missing by her husband on April 20, 2012.

Her body was found 10 days later on the banks of a creek in Brisbane’s west.

The last court related update is as follows from back in December 2013.

The many GBC posts can be found here or here

A family counsellor can be called to give evidence at the murder trial of Brisbane man Gerard Baden-Clay, a judge has ruled.

The Relationships Australia counsellor had argued her conversations with Baden-Clay, 43, and his slain wife Allison, were confidential.

However, Supreme Court judge James Douglas on Thursday ruled counsellor Carmel Ritchie will be required to give evidence at a pre-trial hearing next year.

The ruling means the crown can call Ms Ritchie as a witness during the trial, which has been set down for June next year.

The counsellor spoke with Mrs Baden-Clay on March 27, 2012, and with Baden-Clay and his wife separately on April 16, 2012.

Baden-Clay sat in the dock during Thursday’s brief hearing.

Mrs Baden-Clay was reported missing on April 20 last year, and her body was found on the banks of a creek in Brisbane’s west 10 days later.

Baden-Clay was arrested in June 2012 and charged with murder.

He maintains he is innocent.

In an earlier court hearing, Relationships Australia’s barrister George Kalimnios had argued the Family Law Act prohibited Ms Ritchie giving evidence, and could claim privilege on the grounds of public interest.

But in his written judgement on Thursday, Justice Douglas said both arguments were misconceived, and there were no grounds to claim privilege.

“Even if such a privilege existed separate from the Act, the balance is decisively in favour of permitting access to the evidence for the purposes of Mr Baden-Clay’s trial on the charge of murder.”

Matters before the Court 3rd Feb 2014


Kathleen Folbigg-triple child killer, writing to allan jones

I had this wicked witch listed under a thread on High profile Convictions or somewhere a long time ago but when I read an article where she was writing to Media heavyweight Alan Jones like a giggling immature school girl I though it all needs to be dragged back to reality.

She murdered her infant children. Could of got away with it too. Have a read and let me know what you think. To get the current gist, here is the article I am talking about, followed by what this person has done ( I refuse to call her a mother)



January 20, 2014

 CONVICTED child killer Kathleen Folbigg has written heartfelt letters from inside jail to her new “friend”, broadcaster Alan Jones.

‘Different and separate from some of the worst criminals I have lived with’. Folbigg wrote this of herself to Alan Jones.

‘Different and separate from some of the worst criminals I have lived with’. Folbigg wrote this of herself to Alan Jones.

“Something I’ve always prided myself on over the years is always being different and separate from some of the worst criminals I have lived with,” she tells him in letters from her Silverwater Jail cell.

Jones believes the case against Folbigg is flawed and has backed a University of Newcastle Legal Centre bid for a judicial inquiry into her case this year.

“She writes a letter and I reply. We try to keep these peoples’ spirits up. It is an awful thing tobe locked away if you are innocent,” the 2GB broadcaster said.

He released the letters to The Daily Telegraph to highlight the “injustice” of the case against her. “Everyone needs someone to love them, don’t they?” he said.

“Surely we have an obligation to see that justice has been properly administered,” added Jones, who believes scientific evidence against Folbigg has been discredited.

But in a fresh twist, Jones called The Telegraph yesterday to say that, despite having visited Folbigg in jail and vigorously campaigning for a review of her case, he himself was not sure she was innocent.

Folbigg was sentenced in 2003 to 40 years, reduced to 30 on appeal, for the murder of three of her young children and the manslaughter of one between 1989 and 1999. She has served 10 years.

In the letters, Folbigg tells Jones how she has taken up painting and is looking forward to living in a granny flat in her best friend’s house in the country. She also talks about fellow inmates in the notorious high-protection child-killer wing of the jail. They include Kristi Abrahams, who killed her daughter Kiesha, 6, and Keli Lane, whose baby Tegan has never been found.

“I so don’t like being associated even in general with (the) likes of them. They are guilty and seriously not very nice women with many issues,” she says.

Folbigg clings to memories of her life before jail. “I have hung on to my 35 years of life (even as traumatic as it was) to any of the years that I would ever spend in here.

“Hung on to, a typical basically normal lifestyle. And even suffering so much death, disappointment and grief, it was a normal work, exercise, partner, home life. No drugs, no alcohol, no vices or excesses. So that makes me quite different to everyone in here. LOL,” she writes.

And then in a moment of reflections she adds: “Guess ‘normal’ is extremely suggestive isn’t it? Oh well, I hope you understand my jabbering on, on some level. Ha! LOL.”

She talks about hoping a judicial inquiry will have a “snowball” effect. “Of course my rational/logical side of me says ‘no guarantees’ and doubts about the success of it all are ever present. Especially as another week, another month, another year roll by. But that (is) to be human isn’t it? Full of hopes, dreams, doubts, determination. LOL. I have certainly come to discover that people care Alan.

“And it’s been quite refreshing. People say they care but actions don’t show it. The group of people I now include in my life, that’s including you too Mr, have undoubtedly shown me their hearts/minds and colour of their souls. LOL. Can’t ever ask for better than that in your life,” she writes.

Folbigg is relying on the team from the University of Newcastle Legal Centre gaining a judicial inquiry. Researchers also have argued she is the last serial child killer to remain in jail after the work of British serial child killer expert Sir Roy Meadow was discredited.

Appeal a disgusting ridiculous joke-Folbigg’s sister Lea Bown.

Appeal a disgusting ridiculous joke-Folbigg’s sister Lea Bown.

But Folbigg’s sister Lea Bown said the appeal was “a disgusting ridiculous joke. She has been found guilty by 12 jurors and there is no way those children died by anything other than her hand”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Her Father’s Daughter – The Kathleen Folbigg Story

Against All Odds

When Kathleen Megan Marlbourough left school in 1982, she was 15. Like many kids her age with a limited education, she worked at several low-paying jobs before marrying at age 20. Her husband, Craig Folbigg, was a steel worker. He was 25. They settled in Mayfield, a suburb of Newcastle, Australia’s sixth-largest city an hour’s drive north of Sydney.

Within a year, Kathleen was pregnant. She gave birth to their first child a son, Caleb, in February 1989. At the time of his birth Caleb was described as full term and healthy.

Five days later Kathleen took him home. One morning while feeding him, Kathleen noticed that Caleb was having difficulty breathing and took him back to the hospital where doctors diagnosed him as having a lazy larynx.

At 8 p.m. on February 19, 1989, Kathleen put Caleb in his crib to sleep. At 2:50 a.m. the next morning, Craig Folbigg was awoken by his wife’s screams. Running to the sunroom where the baby slept, Craig saw Kathleen standing over the crib screaming, my baby, something is wrong with my baby.

Caleb Folbigg was dead at just 20 days old.

The official cause of death was listed as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) or cot death.

Seven months later, Kathleen was pregnant again. She gave birth to another son, Patrick, in June 1990.

On October 18, 1990, Kathleen put Patrick to bed. Craig looked in on him at 10 p.m., and he appeared to be sleeping peacefully. At 3:30 a.m. the next morning he was again awoken by Kathleen’s screams.

According to the police statement, He rushed into Patrick’s room and saw his wife standing over Patrick who was lying in his cot. Mr. Folbigg picked up the baby and noted faint, laboured breathing. He commenced resuscitation until the ambulance arrived. Patrick regained consciousness, but was (later) found to now have epilepsy and be blind.

Patrick survived, but not for long.

On the morning of February 13, 1991, Kathleen called Craig at work, and, according to the police statement, said: It’s happened again. Craig left work and arrived home just as the ambulances came. Patrick was taken to hospital, but was dead on arrival.

An autopsy was conducted and the cause of death was an acute asphyxiating event resulting from an epileptic fit.

Following Patricks death, the Folbiggs moved to Thornton, a town northwest of Newcastle.

A year later, Kathleen was pregnant again. In October 1992, a daughter Sarah was born.

All seemed well until 11 months later when Sarah caught a cold and was having trouble sleeping.

By 1:30 a.m. the next morning Sarah was dead.

This time, according to the police report, Craig was awoken by Kathleens screams and saw her standing in the doorway of their bedroom. Sarah was lying in bed, motionless.

Her death was officially attributed to SIDS.

After Sarah’s death they relocated to Singleton in Hunter Valley, a popular wine producing area north of Newcastle.

The couple spent two years there before Kathleen became pregnant for the fourth time. Their second daughter, Laura, was born in August 1997.

Laura was apparently healthy when Kathleen brought her home three days later. Unlike her siblings, Laura’s breathing and sleep patterns were monitored closely for several weeks after her birth, just to be sure.

All was well until 19 months later when Laura caught a cold.

Kathleen gave her medication but at 12:05 p.m. on March 1, 1999, she called an ambulance after Laura allegedly stopped breathing. According to the official report, two ambulance officers arrived to find Kathleen performing CPR on her daughter on the breakfast bar. They examined Laura and found that she was not breathing and had no pulse.

As before, an autopsy was conducted but, unlike the others, the coroner considered Laura too old to have succumbed to SIDS, recorded her cause of death as undetermined, and ordered a police investigation.

Damning Evidence

When Detective Sergeant Bernard Ryan was assigned to investigate Laura Folbigg s death, he could have looked at the case as just one more tragic cot death. But, following the coroners finding, he decided to consider all the possibilities.

Detective Ryan began his investigation routinely by interviewing Kathleen and Craig Folbigg. When he learned that Laura was the fourth child to have died in a similar fashion, however, his suspicions grew.

Then the case took an unexpected turn. Kathleen, who had left her husband after Laura’s death, had moved out without taking many of her possessions. While Craig was cleaning up, he made an unpleasant discovery.

In a bedside drawer he found her diaries, whose contents, he later told the court, made him want to vomit. He took them to the police.

He told police that he had the odd suspicion,” but after finding the diaries his suspicions became horribly real.

Detective Ryan learned that Kathleen had been keeping diaries most of her life, but had thrown most of them away. The ones Craig found obviously had been overlooked.

Her entries indicated a woman torn by mixed emotions. On one hand, she wanted children to prove she could do it, just like other women could, and described the feeling of having a child growing inside her and being impatient for the birth: We’re all waiting, little one, when will you come?

On the other hand, she wrote about the frustrations of being a mother, including her inability to breast feed despite numerous, fruitless attempts with each child.

She also wrote about the resentment she felt after each birth when the attention shifted away from her to the new baby, describing it as a feeling of abandonment just like she had experienced as a child, where she was in a family but never felt like part of it.

She wrote about her wild mood swings and how she watched fish swim in a tank to try and calm herself: I don’t know, how do I conquer this? Help is what I want.

Her writings also disclosed her innermost fears. She worried that Craig would leave her. She felt threatened when he teased her about her weight, and wrote about how she couldn’t deal with his perpetual flirtations. At one point, when he rejected her advances because of her pregnancy, she wrote, Craig’s roving eye will always be of concern to me.

Must lose extra weight or he will be even less in love with me than he is now. I know that physical appearance means everything to him, she wrote.

When she was pregnant with Laura, she wrote: On a good note, Craig said last night he accepts that I’m not going to be skinny again. That’s wonderful, but I know deep in my heart he wants his skinny wife back.

Time after time she wrote about her weight and Craig’s preoccupation with it. Got to start changing my life and becoming a hot-looking energetic mother for my daughter and a sexy wife for my husband.

An entry on November. 13, 1996, indicated the isolation she felt, even from her own family. Why is family so important to me? She wrote. I now have the start of my very own, but it doesn’t seem good enough. I know Craig doesn’t understand. He has the knowledge and stability and love from siblings and parents, even if he chooses to ignore them. Me I have no one but him. It seems to affect me so. Why should it matter? It shouldn’t.

Once, she was home alone when a storm struck. She wrote how she was torn between wanting Craig home to comfort her and then not wanting him there because of how bad he makes her feel: I actually relish in the fact he has a weight problem now. All the years of him tormenting me have come back to get him.

Another entry searched for identity: Thirty years. The first five I don’t really remember, the rest, I choose not to remember. The last 10-11 have been filled with trauma, tragedy, happiness and mixed emotions of all designs. If it wasn’t for my baby coming soon, I’d sit and wonder again what I was put on this earth for. What contribution have I made to anyone’s life?

Other entries seem more sinister. She wrote how stress made her do terrible things and spoke of flashes of rage, resentment and hatred toward her children.

The diaries also indicate that she had no control over her depression and feelings of resentment. She wrote about wanting to wake her husband and ask for help.

One entry marked 9:45, Wednesday, June 11, 1997 reads: My brain has too much happening, unstored and unrecalled memories just waiting. Heaven help the day they surface and I recall. That will be the day to lock me up and throw away the key. Something I’m sure will happen one day.

Some entries spoke specifically about her treatment of her children: I feel like the worst mother on this earth. Scared that she [Laura] will leave me now. Like Sarah did. I knew I was short-tempered and cruel sometimes to her and she left. With a bit of help.

She’s a fairly good-natured baby – thank goodness, it has saved her from the fate of her siblings. I’m sure she’s met everyone and they’ve told her, don’t be a bad or sickly kid, mum may, you know, crack. They’ve warned her – good.

Other entries showed some remorse: My guilt of how responsible I feel for them all, haunts me, my fear of it happening again, haunts me.

When I think I’m going to lose control like last time I’ll just hand baby over to someone else … This time I’m prepared and know what signals to watch out for in myself. Changes in mood etc.

Faced with this damning, though circumstantial evidence, Sergeant Ryan began to build a case against Kathleen Folbigg. From the time he started the long process of interviews and depositions to compile a chain of evidence, Ryan was often warned by doctors that he faced an uphill battle proving his case in court.

But as he dug into Kathleen’s past, Ryan also uncovered a terrible secret.

My Father’s Daughter

On a December evening in 1969, Thomas John Britton confronted Kathleen Mary Donavan outside her home in the Sydney suburb of Annandale and stabbed her 24 times.

They had been living in a de facto relationship, and had an 18-month-old daughter.

At the trial six months later, a woman who witnessed the murder gave evidence against Britton. She testified that after brutally murdering Donavan, Britton had knelt down and kissed her saying: I’m sorry, darling. I had to do it. Allegedly he then turned to the witness and said, I had to kill her because she’d kill my child.

Britton was convicted of murder and sent to prison. The child was sent to a church orphanage. Twelve years later, Britton was released and deported to the United Kingdom.

The little girl stayed in the orphanage until she was three. At that time Kathleen Megan Marlbourough was adopted by a foster family who lived in the Newcastle suburb of Kotara.

Kathleen was an adult before she met her half-sisters and learned the truth about her parents.

On October 14, 1996, with three of her children already dead, Kathleen made a disturbing diary entry that indicated how the tumultuous events of her childhood had affected her: Obviously I am my father’s daughter. It was to be her undoing.

The Trial

Detective Ryan took two years to assemble a case that prosecutors could try with a good chance of a conviction.

On April 19, 2001, Kathleen Megan Folbigg was arrested at her home, taken into custody, and charged with murdering her four children.

During her bail hearing at Maitland Local Court, Police prosecutor Daniel Maher told the court that the prosecution would show evidence from Folbigg’s own diaries, technical evidence from pathology experts, and testimony from her estranged husband to prove that Folbigg had killed her children.

While each child’s individual death had not raised much concern, Maher told the court, their collective deaths could only be attributed to suffocation.

He said the circumstances surrounding the deaths were not consistent with sudden infant death syndrome or cot death. This included the fact that each child was found face up, they were still warm when found and in two cases there were signs of life.

He also cited medical evidence from the United States, given by forensic pathologist Dr. Janice Ophoven that showed the chances of cot death being responsible were a trillion to one.

What that means is this is the only case that has occurred in the world. It’s just not likely.

He also told the court that Folbigg did not appear to grieve after each childs death.

Extensive tests had ruled out the possibility that the children suffered fatal genetic or viral disorders, he told the court.

While admitting that the diary entries were circumstantial, Maher argued that they contributed to her partial admission of guilt.

Brian Doyle, Folbiggs defence council, told the court the deaths were a coincidence adding, Every one of the children was in fact ill in their lifetime before their death.

He told the court that the medical experts the prosecution would call as expert witnesses had come to their conclusions after being supplied with Mrs. Folbigg’s diaries and other statements. So what we have got at the end, wholly and solely, is coincidences, he said.

After hearing submissions, Magistrate Richard Wakely refused bail and ordered Folbigg be held in custody to await trial.

During the two-month trial at Darlinghurst Supreme court in Sydney, the prosecution led by Crown Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi, Q.C., presented strong evidence that portrayed Folbigg as a woman preoccupied with her own life and looks, more interested in going to the gym and nightclubs than looking after her own children.

Focusing on the same evidence presented at the bail hearing, Tedeschi made the assertion that Folbigg had a low stress threshold and killed her four children by smothering each of them over a 10-year period because she could no longer deal with the day-to-day responsibility of being a mother.

Tedeschi also criticized Professor Hilton, the pathologist who had conducted Sarah’s post mortem examination. He had been wrong to attribute Sarah’s death to SIDS when he was aware of the family history, the prosecutor said.

He told the court that because of Hiltons finding a full police investigation or coronial inquiry was never called.

The court also heard that the chances of Laura dying of SIDS were extremely low because during her life she was exhaustively investigated, monitored and had lived beyond the SIDS danger period.

To support this theory, the prosecution called Dr.Christopher Seeton, the doctor in charge of the sleep investigation unit at Sydney’s Westmead Children’s Hospital. Seeton told the court that Laura’s risk of dying from SIDS compared with other children was infinitely perhaps less than average, which is 1 in 1,000.

The crown also asserted that Folbigg avoided investigation because none of the children had shown signs of abuse so the matter was never reported to the Department of Child Services for attention.

The defence, led by lawyer Peter Zahra, refuted the claim and based their argument on the fact that the children had all been sick prior to their deaths.

To strengthen this argument, Zahra called Professor Roger Byard, a forensic pathologist who told the court that it was possible the children died from suffocation and medical problems relating to each of the four children could explain their deaths in isolation.

Considered an expert on cot deaths, Byard added: But the fact that there are all the other deaths in the family makes me less certain … I say undetermined because of the circumstances.

Asked in cross-examination whether it was possible the children had died from deliberate suffocation, Byard answered: It was a possibility, but declined to draw a stronger conclusion as he had not examined the death sites and the deceased children himself.

When questioned regarding the deaths of Patrick from epilepsy and Sarah from the heart disease, myocarditis, Professor Byard, said there was nothing in the pathology to show Patrick died of epilepsy, and added that only one child per year in Australia ever died of myocarditis.

Tedeschi shifted his attention to the incriminating diary entries claiming that they showed Kathleen Folbigg as deeply resentful of the intrusion her children had on her own life, in particular on her sleep, her ability to go to the gym, and her ability to socialize including going out dancing.

He drew attention to the fact that Folbigg was worried about her weight, telling the court: She was constantly preoccupied to an exaggerated degree on her weight gain due, in part, to the fact she couldn’t get to the gym because of her children,” he said.

He called witnesses to attest to the fact that Folbigg showed no obvious reaction to the deaths of her four children.

A hospital nurse described her as detached, and Deborah Grace, Folbiggs neighbour gave evidence that Folbigg was straight-faced after Laura’s death. There were no tears in her eyes. There was nothing, she told the court.

Folbiggs foster sister was also called and told the court that Folbiggs demeanour changed suddenly at Laura’s funeral from crying to being a totally different person. She was happy, laughing, enjoying a party.

During the presentation of evidence Folbigg remained calm, almost cool but during the fourth week of the trial she broke down as a video recording of her 1999 interview with police was played for the court. Crying uncontrollably, Folbigg attempted to leave the courtroom but was restrained by court staff and conveyed to a nearby hospital where she was sedated. The trial was delayed for several days while she recovered. When it resumed, Craig Folbigg was called to give evidence against his former wife.

In his testimony, he related the details of each baby’s death and described the terrifying growl that Kathleen would produce when she got frustrated with the children. He also told the court how Kathleen had pinned Laura to her high chair and attempted to force-feed her before dumping her on the floor with the words, “Go to your fucking father.” Several hours later, Laura was dead.

Two months after the trial began and the evidence presented, the lawyers for both sides completed their closing statements and the judge directed the jury to retire to consider their verdict. They returned in less than eight hours and told a hushed courtroom that they had reached a verdict. They found Kathleen Megan Folbigg guilty of murdering her four children.

As the verdicts were read, Folbigg broke down and cried and at one point turned toward her sister in the public gallery before slumping forward with her head in her hands.

She was taken to Mulawa Women’s Detention centre where she was placed in protective isolation, as women in prison take a very dim view of women who kill children, especially their own.

The following August she was returned to court to hear Justice Graham Barr officially sentence her to 40 years in prison with a non-parole period of 30 years.

Interviewed outside the court, Craig Folbigg dissolved into tears telling reporters, My humble thanks go to 12 people whom I have never formally met, who today share the honour of having helped set four beautiful souls free. Free to rest in peace finally.

Following the sentencing, Kathleen Folbiggs lawyers also made a brief statement indicating that they would begin working on an appeal at the first opportunity.


Several weeks after the trial, Folbigg wrote a scathing letter to the Sydney Morning Herald expressing her anger at the decision. It took four years to come up with a totally circumstantial non-factual, hearsay case, she wrote.

I now face being the most ‘hated’ woman around at the moment and death threats are a real consideration.

On the subject of her diaries she wrote: It’s a sad day when a mother can be put away for merely being a normal mother, who wrote down her emotions, anxieties and frustrations in bloody books.

She also defended herself against claims her demeanour was aloof and unemotional.

I didn’t have the choice to be any other way, she wrote. I would not have been useful in my own defence. The day may come where it is time to release it all, but till my battle is done in clearing my name and reputation, that day is not yet.

She also lashed out at her former husband saying he had betrayed her.

I have already suffered greatly at the hands of Craig and his capability to deliver with his tongue and his quite amazing ability to turn simple into exaggerated and extravagant tales.

Looking for Answers

Following the trial, Melbourne University Associate Professor Anne Buist, an expert in post-birth psychiatric disorders, told reporters that genetic predisposition, along with the loss of her mother at a young age, could have led Kathleen Folbigg to murder her children. We know her father killed her mother, so we know there is potentially a genetic issue there, she said.

Professor Buist also discussed the issue of neglect or emotional abuse of young children. A lot of studies have shown this can affect your development very significantly, she said. Both your brain development, your actual structural biological development if it starts early enough, as well as development at the level of not having a good parenting model, self-esteem.

Leading Sydney forensic psychiatrist Rod Milton, who gave evidence at Ivan Milats Backpacker Murder trial also agrees that the genetic implications of the case could not be rejected. We can’t discount what the father said If I let her (mother) live she would have killed the kid’.

I mean, it might be true, and that raises the genetic issue . . . that maybe there’s some sort of genetic tendency. We’re in the land of not knowing, but to exclude it would be folly. The obvious genetic implications can’t be rejected.

I think she must have lacked empathy for them, otherwise I don’t see how she could have killed them,” he said.

When asked if he thought Folbigg was mad or bad, he answered, she certainly wasn’t mad. Whether she was bad is in the judgment of others and not for me to say.

When asked if it would be possible to rehabilitate her, he said, the idea of her being released while still of child-bearing age is one that doesn’t inspire much confidence.

According to the U.S. National Centre for Health Statistics, infant homicides are classified as deaths purposefully inflicted by other persons on children less than one year old.

Studies from the same source also indicate that homicide is the leading cause of injury deaths among infants under one year of age in the United States and is the 15th leading cause of infant mortality from all causes.

In Australia, the Australian Institute of Criminology reports similar statistics: More infants under the age of one year are murdered each year in Australia than die in either motor traffic accidents, accidental poisonings, falls or drowning. Between 1989 and 1993 an average of 27 children aged under 15 were murdered each year in Australia. Almost two thirds of these children were aged five or less. Around half of all children killed by assault were under one year of age.

In a controversial article in Australia’s New Weekly magazine, Judy Wright, a criminologist at the Australia Institute of Public Safety in Melbourne, revealed the findings of her own investigation which she says shows that women are getting away with murder.

Her 1990 study revealed difficulties in prosecuting mothers that kill their children because a mother’s role is revered in society. Her study also indicates that when women are brought to trial for killing their children they mostly rely on mental disorders as their defence, she said. It’s all due to beliefs that no sane woman could be capable of wanting to kill her own child.

We look for explanations to say those mothers who kill must be sick not bad, just mad. Though we rather not think about it, women are capable of killing for the same reasons as men anger, revenge and power, she said.

To reach her findings, Wright examined hundreds of autopsy reports, coroner’s findings, Victorian Police homicide statistics and Supreme Court files as she investigated the deaths of seventy-four children between 1978 and 1990. She discovered that more than half had been murdered by their mothers, and in 11 cases women killed more than one child. Children had been drowned, set alight, stabbed, and suffocated and one baby had even been thrown out of a window by its mother who was furious at her partner for paying attention to their dog.

There were other deaths where mother’s sketchy explanations sounded suspicious, and 16 where the cause was undetermined. Many weren’t charged with murder, though there were clearly elements of rational planning in the offences. Those who were charged received lenient sentences after arguing they were traumatized, and others were given probation. Most were considered unwell and were treated accordingly.

As a result of her research, Wright also believes that many homicides have been falsely attributed to SIDS.

It’s a tragic excuse because it really devalues the pain of parents who genuinely lose children to SIDS she says.

Allan Cala, the forensic pathologist who voiced his suspicions after conducting an autopsy on Laura Folbigg agrees saying that homicide, accidental death and illness should be fully explored before reaching a diagnosis of SIDS.

He also believes that many pathologists give SIDS as the cause on death certificates to spare parents the trauma of a coronial inquest.

This may have also been the case for Kathleen Folbigg had it not been for her habit of writing down her innermost thoughts as without the damning evidence they contained she may never have been convicted or even brought to trial.

Even more disturbing is that at the time her case went to trial she was considering getting married a second time. She may have even considered having more children.

yesterdays paper

yesterdays paper

Here is an interesting addition, posted today on a sympathetic friend and blogger of Kathleen, called Alana House, who has a blog which can be found here. She is described as follows

Alana House is a blogger, mum and chook enthusiast (the live kind, not the fried kind, though she rather likes that too). Long, long ago she was a feature writer at Cosmopolitan magazine, where Mia Freedman sent her on crazy assignments to be a Dyke On A Bike at Mardi Gras and a judge at Miss Nude Australia. She went on to become editor of Woman’s Day magazine for five years. During her lunch breaks, she created and edited a series of children’s cookbooks: The ABC of Kids’ Cooking, The Nursery Rhyme Cookbook, Easy Kids’ Party Food, Easy As 1,2,3 and Fun Food. Follow her on Twitter (erratically) at Visit Alana’s blog at

When Kathy met Alan (Jones) … In jail

By Alana House

January 20, 2014

unverified person TBA, Kathleen Folbigg and Alana House

unverified person TBA, Kathleen Folbigg and Alana House

After a decade of bone-crushing isolation and fear inside her cell at Silverwater Jail, there have finally been tantalizing glimmers of hope for my former school friend Kathleen Folbigg … and those who feel she didn’t receive a fair trial when she was convicted of murdering three of her children and the manslaughter of a fourth.

Among them is the decision by The University of Newcastle Legal Centre to work on a submission seeking a judicial inquiry into her case.

Another was the surprise appearance in the prison visitors’ room one afternoon of radio host Alan Jones that was revealed in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph.

Kathy told me during my last visit to the jail that knew something was afoot when a buzz of excitement swept through the prison guards and an unusually large number of them suddenly decided they were needed in the visitors’ area.

She sat on her usual pink metal stool, bolted to the floor. To her surprise, Alan walked into the room and sat opposite her on one of the visitors’ blue metal stools, also bolted down.

The mutual friends who had arranged the meeting procured snacks of Mars Bar Pods and Kettle Chips from the junk food machines in the hallway and placed them in plastic bowls on the little bolted-down metal table in front of them, like some Tim Burton-style nightmare version of a fairy toadstool picnic.

Kathy wore a white canvas jumpsuit, secured with an electrical cable tie at the neck, and a pair of ugly, green Dunlop sneakers. Alan wore his signature sports jacket and a broad smile.

They chatted for over an hour and she was charmed by his open attitude towards her plight.

For the 10 years prior her only visitors have been a handful of friends and a dedicated group of Salvation Army members who offer support.

Kathy had become resigned to being branded a cold-blooded child killer who deserved to be locked away for 26 years.

Having Alan visit – and offer his very public support on the cover of yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph – is a sign that the tide of public opinion may finally be turning.

Alan told journalist Matthew Benns (who previously wrote a book called “When The Bough Breaks” that actively condemned Kathy as a murderer) that after reading academic lawyer Emma Cunliffe’s book “Murder, Medicine and Motherhood” about the court case: “I am persuaded that the expert evidence is not convincing at all.”

Alan’s public support is a powerful thing. Liberal powerbroker Michael Kroger, for example, told ABC’s Lateline after the 1998 federal election that he knew who to thank for the Howard government’s narrow victory: his friend Alan Jones.

Alan has a loyal and trusting radio following. He speaks out and people listen, they believe.

Alan notes to Benns: “Having met the woman I find her a very courageous woman and an outstanding person who faces this injustice with great dignity.”

There are many, many issues that I vehemently disagree with Alan Jones upon. There are many, many things that he’s said in the past that I find distasteful. His views on Julia Gillard and her father dying of shame being a disturbing case in point.

(UPDATE: And his decision this morning to release private letters from Kathy to The Daily Telegraph distressed me – Kathy will be mortified and disappointed. How can he not realise how much more difficult he has made her life behind bars?)

But his words about Kathy yesterday were spot on.

I can never imagine having her courage. Prison is a terrible place full of terrifying people and, as Alan notes: “Society collectively should be concerned if a woman’s lying in jail, convicted for (killing) four children, if she didn’t do it.”

When Kathy finally steps outside those prison walls – whether in one year or 15 – she will have nothing. No home, no money, no family. She has lost them all. The Salvos promise someone will be there to meet her when she is freed. But then what? How does she successfully re assimilate into society after being incarcerated for so long, when she’s hated by so many?

I’ve written blogs about Kathy and the vitriol they inspire is fascinating:

“She murdered her little babies after she snapped when they wouldn’t stop crying. She’s a cold, evil and manipulative woman who deserves to rot in jail.”

“She was cruel and evil. I shudder to think of what those poor little babies went through.”

“This woman killed her kids. There are no ifs or buts. She’s a cold-blooded killer. End of story.”

But it’s not the end of the story for me. My world isn’t so black and white. The possibility an innocent woman has been jailed haunts me.

I think I would go mad, locked away for so long, the world believing I murdered my own children. But Kathy is strong, she always has been. She believes her difficult past has helped her survive prison, without it she might have gone mad.

And now she needs to remain strong and not let her hopes get too wild. Because while a wave of public support, a visit from Alan Jones and a campaign by The University of Newcastle Legal Centre are thrilling developments there’s still a long and fraught battle ahead before a judicial inquiry is even countenanced, let alone successful.

But I look forward to visiting her in a few short weeks, hugging her tight and hoping her barrister gets that miracle chance to prove whether justice was indeed done. Time will tell alana, something those kids never got…

Below is a PDF of all court judgements in one document.

R v Folbigg ALL judgements