Daniel Morcombe murder trial jury -guilty all charges


GUILTY ALL CHARGES-WHAT A RELIEF AND WHAT A BASTARD-CAN NOW BE REVEALED HE IS WAS A SERIAL SEX OFFENDER

Brett Peter Cowan found GUILTY murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003

Brett Peter Cowan found GUILTY murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003

At a 2011 coronial inquest into Daniel’s disappearance, Cowan admitted he had been abusing children since he was a child of nine or 10 years old himself.

By the time he was 18, he had preyed on up to 30 children.

Many of them were targeted at a local swimming pool in fleeting encounters in order to avoid detection.

His first conviction for child sexual offences was for an attack on a seven-year-old boy in Queensland in 1987.

While performing community service at a playground, he took the boy into the public toilets and molested him.

After two years on the run, he was arrested and sentenced in 1989 to two years in jail for indecent dealing.

Four years later, while living at a caravan park in Darwin, Cowan attacked again.

A six-year-old boy was looking for his sister, but when he approached Cowan, Cowan took him into bushland and molested him so violently the victim suffered a punctured lung from choking.

Cowan left the boy to die in an old car, before the child staggered into a service station naked, dazed and bleeding.

Cowan initially denied any involvement, at one stage telling detectives: “I hope you catch the bastard.”

He confessed only after police told him they had found DNA evidence.

In late September 1993, Cowan pleaded guilty to gross indecency, grievous bodily harm and deprivation of liberty, and was sentenced to seven years in jail.

When he was released on parole in 1998, Cowan moved to the Sunshine Coast to live with relatives and became involved in the Christian Outreach Church, through which he met his former wife.

The pair married in 1999, and by December 2003 they were living in Beerwah with their baby son, but Cowan had cut ties with the church and the marriage was strained.

On December 7, 2003, Cowan spotted his next victim on the side of the Nambour Connection Road waiting for a bus.

He was a fresh faced boy called Daniel and he was wearing a red shirt.

Cowan once looked into the eyes of Daniel’s parents, Bruce and Denise, and said: “I had nothing to do with Daniel’s disappearance, nothing at all.”

He told the brazen lie while giving evidence at a coronial inquest into the teenager’s disappearance in March 2011.

The guilty verdicts bring to an end the biggest police investigation in Queensland’s history and Australia’s biggest missing person’s case.

The jury in the murder trial of the man accused of killing Queensland teenager Daniel Morcombe has retired to consider its verdicts.

Daniel Morcombe Discussion Page here

Daniel Morcombe in the T shirt he was wearing when went missing.

Daniel Morcombe in the T shirt he was wearing when went missing.

Daniel was abducted and murdered on the Sunshine Coast in 2003 and his remains were found in nearby bushland in 2011. previous posts and daily coverage of trial here

Brett Peter Cowan, also known as Shaddo N-Unyah Hunter, has pleaded not guilty to murder, indecent treatment of a child, and interfering with a corpse.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

Brett Peter Cowan is accused of murdering schoolboy Daniel Morcombe in 2003.

Update 13/03/14

JURORS deciding the fate of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe’s accused killer are deliberating for a second day.

The six men and six women on the Supreme Court jury retired at lunchtime on Wednesday to consider their verdict in the trial of Brett Peter Cowan.

They left the Brisbane courtroom after Justice Roslyn Atkinson told them they may consider a manslaughter verdict.

They deliberated for three and a quarter hours on Wednesday before the court was adjourned for the day.

Justice Roslyn Atkinson began proceedings this morning delving into the undercover police operation.

She told jurors they cannot use against Cowan his right to remain silent when he was arrested.

Justice Atkinson told the jury it had been a long trial with a lot of evidence.

She said jurors could check any facts of the case while considering their verdicts.

Justice Atkinson has provided jurors with a question trail to help them reach verdicts.

Earlier this week, prosecution and defence lawyers gave their final submissions.

In the past four weeks, more than 100 witnesses have given evidence at the trial.

The court heard police found the schoolboy’s remains at an old macadamia farm at Beerwah in 2011.

Seventeen bone fragments were found after one of the largest searches undertaken by police and State Emergency Service volunteers.

Defence lawyer Angus Edwards said there was no proof Cowan killed Daniel and the alleged confessions recorded by undercover police were made up.

Mr Edwards said it was more likely convicted child rapist Douglas Jackway killed the schoolboy.

“For a fellow like him to be driving down that stretch of road past Daniel Morcombe would have been like a snake going past a wounded mouse,” Mr Edwards said.

“He stalked, abducted and killed Daniel Morcombe, and if you accept that, all the other evidence in this trial will fall into place.”

He said Jackway’s sexual assault of a boy in 1995 had striking similarities to Daniel’s case.

He owned a blue car, and a blue car was seen by witnesses circling and stalking the teenager as he waited for a bus, Mr Edwards said.

The car “wasn’t always in the same position. It was stalking Daniel Morcombe”, he said.

The inevitable conclusion, Mr Edwards said, was that Jackway was involved in Daniel’s abduction.

He said although there was no direct evidence of the convicted paedophile’s involvement, the jury should draw inferences.

But prosecutors said that scenario was a red herring and Cowan’s confessions were truthful because of their detailed nature and gravity.

Crown prosecutor Michael Byrne said Cowan alone led police to Daniel’s remains and his confessions were not forced.

Mr Byrne said despite Jackway’s horrendous crimes, he was a “cheap target” and there was no evidence he was on the Sunshine Coast that day.

Justice Atkinson told the jury yesterday to put out of their minds anything they have seen, heard or read about the trial outside of the courtroom.

“The evidence is what you’ve heard in this court and not recollections of what you might have read in the newspaper or seen on television or heard on the radio at some time during the past or even during the trial,” she said.

“You should dismiss all feelings of sympathy or prejudice against the defendant or anyone else.

“Nor should you allow public opinion to sway you, you must approach your duty dispassionately.”

A Look back at the key developments in the murder case of Queensland schoolboy Daniel Morcombe.

December 7, 2003:

Daniel Morcombe, 13, vanishes while waiting for a bus under the Kiel Mountain Road overpass on Nambour Connection Road at Woombye on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. He was on his way to go Christmas shopping when he disappeared.

December 7, 2004:

About 1,000 people attend a memorial service to mark the first anniversary of Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance. A special plaque is also unveiled at the site.

October 4, 2004:

A $250,000 reward is posted by the Queensland Government for information leading to an arrest or conviction.

February, 2005:

Parents Bruce and Denise Morcombe launch the Daniel Morcombe Foundation to continue their message on child safety.

December 1, 2008:

A record $1 million private reward is offered for new information about the disappearance.

April, 2010:

The State Coroner receives an extensive investigation report, containing thousands of pages, from police regarding the suspected death.

October 13, 2010:

A coronial inquest led by State Coroner Michael Barnes begins. The inquest is held in Maroochydore and Brisbane. It adjourns on April 6, 2011.

August 13, 2011:

Brett Peter Cowan, 41, is arrested and charged. Police and State Emergency Service volunteers search bushland in the Sunshine Coast hinterland as part of the investigation. Over the next two months, a pair of shoes and human bones are discovered. DNA results confirm they belong to Daniel Morcombe.

November 26, 2012:

Cowan’s committal hearing begins in the Brisbane Magistrates Court.

December 7, 2012:

A funeral is held for Daniel Morcombe at St Catherine of Siena Church at Sippy Downs on the Sunshine Coast, nine years to the day since he disappeared. He was laid to rest at Woombye Cemetery.

February 7, 2013:

Cowan ordered to stand trial in the Supreme Court of Queensland. He is charged with murder, indecent treatment of a child and interfering with a corpse.

February 10, 2014:

Cowan’s trial begins. It is expected to take six weeks. A pool of about 100 potential witnesses may be called to give evidence.

Brett Cowan, portrait of a monster

March 13, 2014 – 2:31PM

The little boy was looking for his sister. He was six and dressed only in a pair of underpants as he wandered alone through the BP Palms Caravan Park on the Stuart Highway on the outskirts of Darwin.

The little boy lived in the caravan park with his family. Brett Peter Cowan lived in a neighbouring van.

Around dusk on a Thursday night in September 1993, Brett Cowan, then aged 24, approached the boy and asked him if he wanted to go for a walk to see an old car wreck abandoned in the bush not so far away.

The pair left the trailer park, climbed through a hole in a wire fence and walked along a scrubby bush track. When the little boy asked Cowan how far it was to the wreck, the young man swung him up on to his shoulders for the final 200 metres.

Cowan then lay the boy on the upturned rust bucket, pulled the boy’s underpants down and dropped his own shorts.

About an hour later, the boy, naked and filthy now, stumbled through the dark back into the BP Palms service area. Northern Territory Supreme Court documents reveal he was dazed and distressed.

In intensive care at Royal Darwin Hospital the extent of his injuries became apparent. A collapsed and punctured left lung, haemorrhaged eyes, a bloodied nose, abrasions across his face, a deep cut in his scrotum area.

A doctor said the boy’s “combination of injuries was consistent with his having sustained a complex series of injuries involving an asphyxial element, blunt force injury, sharp force injury and anal penetration”. The boy’s wounds were heavily contaminated with carbon-containing material, “consistent with contact with a heavily ashed bushfire area”.

After initially denying any involvement, Brett Peter Cowan made a full confession. He told police that he needed help.

But just how much help did he get? It’s a question that many will be asking about the 44-year-old, who on Thursday was found guilty in Brisbane’s Supreme Court of murdering 13-year-old Daniel Morcombe on the Sunshine Coast on December 7, 2003.

In Queensland’s highest-profile criminal case ever, Cowan, the father of three young boys, now awaits Justice Roslyn Atkinson’s sentencing decision.

It might be little consolation to Daniel’s heartbroken and weary parents, Bruce and Denise Morcombe, that Cowan denies molesting their son. “I never got to molest him or anything like that; he panicked and I panicked and grabbed him around the throat and just before I knew it, he was dead,” Cowan confessed to an undercover police officer in Perth in August 2011.

“I was starting to pull his pants down … and he said, ‘oh no’, and he started to struggle..” Cowan told the officer. In a later conversation, he said, “… if I didn’t panic I could’ve been there for an hour doing stuff.”

Whatever jail term Justice Atkinson settles on, it will be Cowan’s third for crimes against boys. He was sentenced to two years’ jail in 1989 after indecently dealing with a seven-year-old boy. Cowan was 18 when he took the boy into a public toilet in Brisbane and molested him.

In June 1994, he was sentenced to seven years’ jail for his crimes against the little boy in Darwin. But by 1998, only four years later, Cowan was out of jail and living in the Sunshine Coast community of Bli Bli with his aunt and uncle who were pastors at the Suncoast Christian Church (formerly the Christian Outreach Centre).

It was to be a new start for the convicted paedophile and small-time drug dealer, a 190cm-tall man with a goatee, two silver earrings, a tattoo of a clown on his shoulder and two upper-arm tattoos –  one of a skull holding a smoking gun with skeletal fingers, the other of a skull in a top hat.

At one point Cowan was going to church three times a weekend. He met a girl through church and, in September 1999, after a church wedding ceremony, they celebrated at a reception at the Big Pineapple, a remnant of gaudy 1970s tourism on the Nambour Connection Road.

The couple started their life together in Beerwah, an old sugarcane town spliced by Steve Irwin Way and with a view of the jagged Glasshouse Mountains. Cowan smoked pot and did a bit of this, a bit of that — odd jobs, tow-truck driving, industrial spray-painting — until someone hooked him up with local businessman Trevor Davis. “I thought quite a lot of Brett,” says Mr Davis, who owns a sandblasting business.

By all accounts, Cowan had a disciplined upbringing. “He was an army brat,” says Mr Davis of his former employee, who was born in Bunbury, Western Australia, in September 1969. He and his three brothers spent much of their childhood in Brisbane’s Everton Park. Cowan’s father, Peter, retired from the Army having achieved the rank of major.

Mr Davis says Brett Cowan was intelligent and hard-working, “an open and friendly chap” who got on with customers and “never forgot anything I taught him”.

Mr Davis was so impressed by his employee that he bought a second sandblasting business with the intention that Cowan could run it independently. “I figured that I could front him into it,” says Mr Davis.

Tracey Lee Moncrieff gave birth to the couple’s first child, a little boy, in mid 2003, about six months before Bruce and Denise Morcombe’s little boy vanished from a bus stop under an overpass at Woombye on the Nambour Connection Road.

Police quickly identified Cowan as a person of interest in their investigation. Cowan was interviewed and, just before Christmas, his white Pajero was carted off to Nambour police station where it was scoured it for evidence. Nothing was found.

Cowan denied having anything to do with the case. He would later officially change his name in a vain attempt to avoid further scrutiny. His new name was “Shaddo N-unyah Hunter” — “Shaddo” because it was his dog’s name and his dog followed him around like a shadow. When undercover police asked what “N-unyah” was all about, he replied “Nunyah business”.

In 2004, Moncrieff gave birth to his second son but the marriage was soon over. At some point Cowan’s spiritual observance had come to an end too.  “Something was preached over the pulpit that I didn’t agree with and (I) went and spoke with the pastor about it and he wouldn’t change his mind so…” he would later tell police.

“He just didn’t appear at a job site one day and that was the last I saw of him,” says Trevor Davis. “He just did a bunk.”

The Darwin judge who sentenced Cowan after his sex attack on the six-year-old boy described Cowan as a “pathological liar and a person who is prepared to steal even from his own parents”. He had lived a “parasitic existence, relying on social security and his parents”, the judge said, listing offences including stealing, break and enter and unlawful use of motor vehicles.

After he left Moncrieff, Cowan seems to have resumed that behaviour, drifting through a drug-hazed underclass, from what he described as “Nam-boring”, to Moranbah in north Queensland and then, by the time of the Nerang interview in 2005, to Uki in the Tweed Valley.

In 2008 he was living with 18-year-old Leticha Anne Harvey in Durack, Ipswich. By December 2009 she’d given birth to their son and they were living in a caravan park on Bribie Island in Moreton Bay off Brisbane. Cowan would later tell undercover police that he’d lost access to his two oldest children and that his brother and his wife had custody of his youngest son.

By March 2011 when Cowan was called to give evidence at the inquest into Daniel Morcombe’s disappearance, he was living in yet another caravan park — this time in Perth with another woman, also called “Tracey”, a woman he described as “a friend with benefits”, and his pet “birdie”, a “twenty-eight” or Australian ring-neck parrot.

At the inquest in the Brisbane Coroners Court, Cowan was Dubbed “P7”, “Person of Interest 7”. He had been bullied at school, Cowan told the court, and came to struggle with his bisexuality.

He admitted to smoking “cones” of marijuana in his hotel room each morning he was required to give evidence.

He admitted something else as he tried to convince the inquest he wasn’t involved in Daniel’s disappearance. “I wasn’t interested in teenage boys. I was interested in six, seven and eight-year-old boys.”

On April 1, excused from the inquest, Cowan caught a flight back to Perth. On the plane, he sat next to a bloke who introduced himself as Joe Emery. They got chatting and swapped numbers. “Joe Emery” was the false name of an undercover police officer. One of the most extraordinary undercover police investigations in Australia’s history had begun.

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Layni Cameron and Larna Watmough-Gutless ferals filmed attacking elderly man on Gold Coast bus


update 01/03/14

TWO young women accused of a racist attack on an elderly blind man on a Gold Coast bus have received death threats, their lawyer says.

One has been freed on bail but her co-accused will remain behind bars and was led back to the cells sobbing.

Bus attack accused Larna Watmough pictured at Southport police station on Friday

Bus attack accused Larna Watmough pictured at Southport police station on Friday

Larna Watmough, 21, and Layni Cameron, 17 — who can be named because Queensland laws treat 17-year-olds as an adult — faced Southport Magistrates Court this morning charged with serious assault and public nuisance.

Gold Coast bus bash accused Layni Cameron at Coolangatta police station

Gold Coast bus bash accused Layni Cameron at Coolangatta police station

They are accused of assaulting 77-year-old man Paul Buttigieg on a Surfside bus on Tuesday. Continue reading

Brett Cowan-VIDEO and TRANSCRIPT OF THE CONFESSION VIDEO


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

TRANSCRIPT and VIDEO OF THE CONFESSION VIDEO

press read more to read transcript

Continue reading

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes child sex abuse trial- FOUND guilty 10/11 charges


3PM 07/04/14

UPDATE HUGHES FOUND GUILTY ON 10 OF 11 CHARGES

Sleep well in jail "Hey Dad" Robert Huges

Sleep well in jail “Hey Dad” Robert Hughes


Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has been found guilty of nine of 11 charges of sexually assaulting young girls in the 1980s.

A jury delivered its verdict after a trial lasting almost six weeks at Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court.

Hughes had pleaded not guilty to the 11 charges that he either sexually or indecently assaulted five girls between 1985 and 1990.

The victims were aged between seven and 15 at the time.

Robert Hughes trial: Former Hey Dad! star guilty of one of final two indecency charges

Updated 6 minutes ago 08/04/14

Former Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes has been found guilty of one of his remaining two indecency charges.

Hughes was found guilty on nine other charges of sexual and indecent assault of young girls dating back to the 1980s.

The jury returned to consider the remaining two charges Tuesday morning.

Hughes has now been found guilty on one charge, dating back to 1990, but the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the other.

The 65-year-old sat quietly in the dock as the verdict was read out.

The trial lasted almost six weeks.

Earlier today, the judge dismissed an application from Hughes’s lawyer to dismiss the jury before it gave verdicts on the final two charges, due to the reporting of yesterday’s guilty verdicts.

“It is my respected submission that media reporting of the accused has been so extensive and pervasive that it is an impossibility to suggest jurors haven’t been exposed to it,” Greg Walsh told the court.

Crown Prosecutor Gina O’Rourke told the court the media reports were based on information the jury had already heard in court.

“This case has received significant media attention and it was inevitable that the nine counts were going to be reported,” she said.

“The media simply reported what the verdicts were and the outburst (by Hughes).

“The reports referred to evidence that the court and jury heard during the trial.”

In delivering his decision on the application, District Court Judge Peter Zahra noted the jury had been diligent and had listened to his instructions about avoiding media reporting of the case.

“The material that I have seen so far is regrettably what had been reported during the trial and I say regrettable because it has been inflammatory…I don’t propose to discharge the jury,” he said.

On Monday Hughes was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault and seven counts of indecent assault.

The victims were aged between seven and 15 years old at the time.

District Court Judge Peter Zahra had asked the 12-person jury to deliver at least a majority decision of 11 on the remaining two counts of indecency.

Hughes had pleaded not guilty to all 11 charges of sexually or indecently assaulting five girls between 1985 and 1990.

As the verdicts were read out yesterday Hughes stood up in the dock and yelled: “I am innocent.”

Mr Walsh says it is anticipated the actor will appeal.

He told reporters outside the court that Hughes was a broken man and that he believed it was not a fair trial.

Hughes will be sentenced in May.

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes exposed himself to young female co-star on set in the 1980s, court hears

February 24, 2014 3:33PM

FORMER Hey Dad! STAR Robert Hughes exposed himself to a young cast member on set at the same time other young girls complained about being woken in the night by his sexual advances, a jury has heard today.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty to a string of child sex offences, said to have occurred mainly in the mid-1980s.

Update 26/02/14

The boyfriend of an alleged victim of Robert Hughes said he would insist on taking her to bed and touch her

February 26, 2014

AN ALLEGED child victim of Hey Dad! Star Robert Hughes says he molested her at night and then gave her teddy back and told her she was a “good girl”.

Hughes in a publicity still for the popular Channel Seven show.

Hughes in a publicity still for the popular Channel Seven show.

The woman said she would often go to sleepovers at his Artarmon house, in Sydney’s north when the two families were neighbours.

He would walk into the bedroom at night while she slept on a mattress on the floor, she said.

“I remember Robert coming in and telling me to roll over then he would put my hand with his hand,” the victim told the jury on Wednesday.

He helped her masturbated him and rub his sperm on her genitals, she said.

The women who is now 35 said she started sleeping on her stomach and putting her hand underneath her after the incidents started to occur regularly.

On one occasion after it had happened again, Hughes allegedly gave the girl back her teddy bear and told her “good girl, go back to sleep”, she said.

The woman said the same incident happened a number of times but she did not remember exactly because of her young age.

She said she would start making excuses not to go to sleepovers.

After the girl told her parents at the age of seven or eight, they took her to a psychologist, sold their house and moved away from Hughes.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty in the District Court to 11 child sex offences involving five alleged victims.

The boyfriend of another complainant also gave evidence at his trial on Wednesday.

The man, who dated the girl from when she was 16, said she had first told him about the famous actor at a conversation in her kitchen at Christmas, 1986.

The girl’s parents were friends of the Hughes family and they would often come over to their house when she was a child, he said.

“She asked if I knew the actor from Hey Dad! Robert Hughes,” he said.

“She said late in the evenings when it was bedtime Robert would be fairly insistent to take the children by himself to bed.

“He would then put his hands under the sheets and under their private parts.

“After a short period of time he would leave the room and go downstairs where (the adults) where socialising.

“It had been brought up again on occasion when Robert’s face was on the TV or a reminder of it.”

But Hughes’s barrister Greg Walsh said the former boyfriend had said she told about the Hey Day! actor in 1986 but the show didn’t go to air until 1987.

The trial before Judge Peter Zahra continues.

A District Court jury has today heard five now adult women came forward after media reports alleging Hughes indecently assaulted a young girl who was also working on the popular TV program.

Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke has said in her opening address to the jury that Hughes told one of the girls “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep” after rubbing himself against her while she was at his Sydney home for a sleepover.

It is alleged another young girl was indecently touched while he was administering ear drops for an infection she had from getting them pierced.

Four of the complainants knew the actor, who was extradited from London to Sydney in December 2012 to face the charges, through their family or young friends.

The first woman who will give evidence in the trial expected to last up to six weeks previously enjoyed the company of the actor, who was a friend of her parents, but she “eventually came to dread his visits”, Ms O’Rourke said.

She will allege that around the time she was 14 Hughes went into her bedroom after a family dinner party, placed his hand under her doona and through her underwear.

The jury heard that at another party he returned to her room but his time she resisted as he “crouched” beside the bed and placed his fingers inside her underwear.

“The accused became quite rough, pushing back against her resistance,” Ms O’Rourke said.

The woman, now aged in her 40s, is expected to tell the jury she told her mother confronted Hughes about the assaults after she confided that she didn’t want to go on a proposed holiday the two families were taking together.

“You will hear [from the complainant’s mother] that the accused appeared not to care and did not respond to or deny the allegations,” Ms O’Rourke said.

She made a formal statement to police in 2010 after she saw a television program interviewing the woman who alleged Hughes exposed himself to her on the set of Hey Dad! by removing his pants.

Two other women are expected to give evidence that Hughes snuck into the bedroom where they were sleeping at his family home.

The jury heard one described being told to “turn around” while he rubbed against her before giving her a teddy bear and saying “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep.”

On another occasion in the same bedroom Hughes allegedly told her “she was a good girl” after she attempted, but failed, to stop his advances.

The court heard two of the girls made statements to police in the 1980s but Hughes denied the allegations.

Ms O’Rourke said the fourth complainant, a former family friend of the actor, will tell the jury she received “16 long stemmed red roses” with a card saying “Happy Birthday love RH” for her 16th birthday after Hughes told her he wanted to have sex with her but she had informed him she was only 15 and below the age of consent.

On an occasion in 1989 when he drove the then 16 year old home, the court heard Hughes asked her “when they were going to do it” and she said she didn’t want to.

“Well that’s your loss, you won’t find out how good I am,” she alleges Hughes told her.

The trial continues before Judge Peter Zahra.

Hey Dad! star Robert Hughes exposed himself to young female co-star on set in the 1980s

The Daily Telegraph
February 24, 2014 2:01PM

Court Hears

  • Five now-adult women set to give evidence against him
  • One claims he rubbed his erect penis against her face
  • Daughter of Hughes’ friends was ‘assaulted after party’
  • He ‘sent roses for 16th birthday to girl he wanted sex with’
  • 64-year-old was extradited to face charges. He denies them all

FORMER Hey Dad! STAR Robert Hughes exposed his penis to a young cast member on set at the same time other young girls complained about being woken in the night by his sexual advances, a jury has heard today.

Hughes, 64, has pleaded not guilty to a string of child sex offences, said to have occurred mainly in the mid-1980s.

A District Court jury has today heard five now adult women came forward after media reports alleging Hughes indecently assaulted a young girl who was also working on the popular TV program.

Crown prosecutor Gina O’Rourke has said in her opening address to the jury that Hughes told one of the girls “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep” after “masturbating” against her while she was at his Sydney home for a sleepover.

It is alleged another young girl had her face rubbed against Hughes’s nether regions while he was administering ear drops for an infection she had from getting them pierced.

Four of the complainants knew the actor, who was extradited from London to Sydney in December 2012 to face the charges, through their family or young friends.

The first woman who will give evidence in the trial expected to last up to six weeks previously enjoyed the company of the actor, who was a friend of her parents, but she “eventually came to dread his visits”, Ms O’Rourke said.

She will allege that around the time she was 14 Hughes went into her bedroom after a family dinner party, placed his hand under her doona and though her underwear before rubbing her vagina.

The jury heard that at another party he returned to her room but his time she resisted as he “crouched” beside the bed and placed his fingers inside her underwear.

“The accused became quite rough, pushing back against her resistance,” Ms O’Rourke said.

The woman, now aged in her 40s, is expected to tell the jury she told her mother confronted Hughes about the assaults after she confided that she didn’t want to go on a proposed holiday the two families were taking together.

“You will hear [from the complainant’s mother] that the accused appeared not to care and did not respond to or deny the allegations,” Ms O’Rourke said.

She made a formal statement to police in 2010 after she saw a television program interviewing the woman who alleged Hughes exposed himself to her on the set of Hey Dad! by removing his pants and “making his penis sway.”

Two other women are expected to give evidence that Hughes snuck into the bedroom where they were sleeping at his family home.

The jury heard one described being told to “turn around” while he put his penis against her and, afterwards, gave her a teddy bear and said “here’s your teddy, go back to sleep.”

On another occasion in the same bedroom Hughes allegedly told her “ she was a good girl” after she attempted, but failed, to stop his advances.

The court heard two of the girls made statements to police in the 1980s but Hughes denied the allegations.

Ms O’Rourke said the fourth complainant, a former family friend of the actor, will tell the jury she received “16 long stemmed red roses” with a card saying “Happy Birthday love RH” for her 16th birthday after Hughes told her he wanted to have sex with her but she had informed him she was only 15 and below the age of consent.

On an occasion in 1989 when he drove the then 16 year old home, the court heard Hughes asked her “when they were going to do it” and she said she didn’t want to.

“Well that’s your loss, you won’t find out how good I am,” she alleges Hughes told her.

The trial continues before Judge Peter Zahra.

 

 

SA child care worker Mark Christopher Harvey stands trial accused of child sex abuse


SA child care worker Mark Christopher Harvey stands trial accused of child sex abuse

Chief Court Reporter Sean Fewster

February 24, 2014 1:27PM

THE child care worker who sparked the Education Department sex abuse scandal is a paedophile who abused his position to hide his deviancy in plain sight, a court has heard.

Artist’s sketch of Mark Christopher Harvey during his November 2012 appearance in the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court

Artist’s sketch of Mark Christopher Harvey during his November 2012 appearance in the Port Adelaide Magistrates Court

Mark Christopher Harvey is currently serving a six-year jail term for child sex offences committed at a western suburbs school in December 2010.

Today, he stood trial in the District Court charged with the persistent sexual exploitation of four girls prior to that crime.

In his opening address, prosecutor Mark Norman, SC, said Harvey had touched the girls, aged between five and eight, bit their toes and even blindfolded them.

Mr Norman said Harvey was the director of an out of school hours care program, and so knew full well how inappropriate and unlawful his conduct was.

“Our case is that the accused is a paedophile with a foot fetish,” he said.

“The children adored him, they treated (his actions) as just another game, as something that Mr Harvey would do.”

“He was hiding in plain sight — he was getting sexual pleasure from touching the children and, in particular, biting their toes, and using his position to disguise it as innocent play.”

Harvey, 43, has pleaded not guilty to four counts of persistent sexual exploitation of a child allegedly committed between January 2007 and December 2011.

Those offences pre- and postdate his existing conviction over a sexual act involving a blindfolded child in December 2010.

Parents who used the OSCH service were not told of that offending until November 2012, sparking the Education Department sex abuse scandal.

Unrelated allegations against dozens of other teachers and child care workers came to light, and then-education minister Grace Portolesi was succeeded by Jennifer Rankine.

A subsequent inquiry, by retired Supreme Court Justice Bruce Debelle, produced a 280 page report with 43 recommendations about how alleged sex abuse should be handled by the Education Department .

This month, the Sunday Mail revealed there remain more than 80 “ongoing investigation matters” involving alleged misconduct by Education Department and Families SA staff.

Today, Mr Norman said that, under Harvey’s leadership, the OSCH program was “less structured” than others and rewarded children with lollies and physical contact.

He would sit with them in the TV room and single out “favoured” children to accompany him to a separate area to prepare fruit snacks for the group.

“It’s plain Harvey was conditioning the children to be accepting of his touch,” he said.

“(When preparing snacks) he knew it would be very unlikely he would be seen or disturbed.”

Mr Norman said Harvey would “play a taste-testing game” with select children, while they were blind-folded, usually by a tea towel.

He said that, during a conversation with another staff member, Harvey announced he would be playing a taste-testing game with the entire group.

“He was masking his intentions toward the children by admitting this taste-testing game existed,” he said.

“That would enable him, should he ever be taken to task about being alone with the children, to say he’d told people about it and it therefore must be innocent.”

Mr Norman said other staff became concerned when, during a vacation care excursion, Harvey let a distressed child sit in his lap in full view of the general public.

“Harvey did not deny it and said he was comforting the child and would continue to do so,” he said.

He said Harvey was formally cautioned over the incident, and so committed the offences knowing his behaviour was inappropriate.

Mr Norman said that, after December 2010 crime, the alleged victims of the current matter approached their parents and complained about Harvey.

Police, meanwhile, discovered “a dozen foot fetish DVDs” in Harvey’s home.

During a subsequent interview, Harvey told police that letting children help him prepare snacks was “part of the children’s ownership” of the OSHC program.

He also conceded being “a big one for” physical interaction and that he was “trying to do the right thing, but it bit me on the ass in the long run”.

“This is an example of confession and avoidance,” Mr Norman said.

“He seeks to blame the children for this, or to at the very least categorise it as benign play.”

The trial, before Judge Michael Boylan in the absence of a jury, continues.

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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.

GUTLESS SELF INTERESTED PROFESSIONALS ENTRUSTED TO TAKE CARE OF OUR CHILDREN AND KEEP THEM SAFE.

EACH AND EVERYONE OF YOU MAKE ME SICK TO THE STOMACH. BLOODY EXCUSE AFTER EXCUSE, YOUR PATHETIC EXCUSES, CAREERS, SELF INTERESTS OR SECRETS WERE MORE IMPORTANT. YOU WILL BE EXPOSED HERE, THE TIME HAS COME.

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.”

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/principal-barred-for-pedophile-inaction/story-e6frg6nf-1226790822074#

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.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/03/12/judges-dismiss-appeal-against-pedophile-toowoomba/

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.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/year-sentence-sticks-for-teacher-who-molested-schoolgirls/story-e6freon6-1226019627777

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.

http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/qld/QCA/2011/40.html

Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal

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

Last Updated: 14 March 2011

SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND

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

BYRNES, Gerard Vincent

(respondent)

EX PARTE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF QUEENSLAND

(appellant)

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
DELIVERED AT: Brisbane
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.

Consideration

[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.”

Conclusion

[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.

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/former-catholic-teacher-gerard-vincent-byrnes-gets-10-years-for-abuse-of-young-schoolgirls/story-e6freoof-1226007569524

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.  http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/02/17/court-hear-byrnes-appeal-toowoomba/

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.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/queensland-attorney-general-to-appeal-child-rapist-gerard-vincent-byrnes-eight-year-term/story-e6freuyi-1225942286887

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.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/04/3028981.htm

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.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/04/3029060.htm?section=justin

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.”

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/08/13/bishop-offers-to-meet-with-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”.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/08/12/family-forced-leave-dity/

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.

http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/07/24/pedophile-Gerard-Vincent-byrnes-to-face-sentencing/

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.

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/church-warned-as-teacher-gerard-byrnes-admits-44-counts-of-child-sex-abuse/story-e6freuzr-1225853862863

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.

 

BODY-in-the-boot killer Tania Herman released on Valentines day


Remember this shocking case, Joe Korp and his lover plotted to kill Joe’s wife Maria? Tania hid in waiting in the family garage and pounced on Maria strangled her, thinking she was dead .

Then popped her in the boot and dumped the car. It was found days later, poor Maria still barely alive. They turned life support OFF after about 6 months.She served 9 measly years, in  min security the later part. Although early on was quite the enforcer, I hear once putting big fat Judy Moran back in her place.

The coward Joe Korp, hanged himself in the family garage the day of her funeral. The gutless man wanted us to think it was from a heavy heart. Bullshit.

Herman takes a walk on the outside

HAND-in-hand with her girlfriend, body-in-the-boot attacker Tania Herman enjoyed her first full day of freedom.

Looking fit — and sporting a makeover — the woman who choked Maria Korp went largely unrecognised as she strolled the streets of Yarraville, in Melbourne’s inner west on Saturday.

Herman was released from Tarrengower Women’s Prison early on Valentine’s Day, just months after her lover Nicole Muscat walked free from the same jail.

The pair met as inmates in the low-security jail, in Maldon, in Victoria’s Goldfields region.

And although they failed in their bid to marry behind bars last May — Corrections Victoria refused their application for a civil ceremony — they have maintained their relationship.

Herman served nine years of a 12-year sentence for the attempted murder of Mrs Korp, a Melbourne mother of two, in 2005.

LOVE BLIND FOR BODY-IN-BOOT STRANGLER

Mrs Korp was found in a car boot near the Shrine of Remembrance, four days after being strangled by her husband Joe Korp’s mistress, Herman.

Mrs Korp never recovered, dying in The Alfred hospital almost six months later after being taken off life support.

And Mr Korp — also charged with the attempted murder of his wife — killed himself on the day of her funeral, while awaiting his trial.

Herman’s new partner, convicted fraudster Muscat, was jailed for two years for stealing $118,000 from a ­pokies venue she managed.

The couple was driven to a house in Yarraville by another woman on Friday, after Herman’s 8.20am release.

A blonde when she first gained national notoriety a decade ago, Herman emerged from prison as a long-haired brunette.

Wearing sunglasses and a casual long-sleeve red and white T-shirt and jeans, she blended into inner-suburban life.

It is not known whether they plan to go ahead with their marriage.

Nicole Muscat stole almost $120,000 from Torquay Golf Club

 A WOMAN who systematically stole almost $120,000 from the Victorian golf club she worked for has been jailed for at least two years.

Nicole Muscat worked as the operations manager of the Torquay Golf Club in 2007 when she stole $118,000 from the gaming machine venue.

Muscat, 31, created false accounting records to conceal her crimes.

She stole most of the cash in $5000 increments from the gaming machines, the Victorian County Court heard today, although she once stole $15,000 in one hit.

Judge Geoffrey Chettle said Muscat continued to steal funds even when auditors were called in.

“Your offending was sophisticated, planned and repetitive,” Judge Chettle said.

“You abused your position, doctored the books and regularly stole Torquay Golf Club funds.”

Judge Chettle sentenced Muscat to three years and nine months’ jail and ordered she serve two years before being eligible for parole. Did she have to pay the money back? 2 years is stuff all?

Muscat, of Anglesea, was found guilty at trial of 23 counts of theft and 17 false-accounting charges

Tania Herman released from prison, picked up by lesbian lover Nicky Muscat on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2014

BODY-in-the-boot killer Tania Herman has arrived at her lesbian lover’s home after being released from prison on Valentine’s Day.

Herman, wearing jeans and a red shirt, declined to talk to media outside the Yarraville property.

This morning she was released from jail and drove away in a silver Toyota 4WD with her lover Nicky Muscat.

Herman spent most of her time in the Dame Phyllis Frost maximum-security prison but was released from Tarrengower — a minimum-security jail.

Herman emerged from the women’s minimum-security prison near Bendigo at 8.20am today, nine years and four days after she was jailed for the attempted murder of Maria Korp.

Mrs Korp was found in the boot of her car in Melbourne barely alive four days after she was throttled in her Mickleham home in February, 2005.

She died in hospital five months later.

Mrs Korp’s husband, Joe Korp, was also charged with attempted murder for colluding with Herman, his mistress, to kill his wife.

Joe Korp with Tania Herman.

Joe Korp with Tania Herman.

Mr Korp killed himself on the day of his wife’s funeral.

Herman confessed to the crime, stating she had been motivated by her love for Mr Korp, who had requested she “get rid” of his wife so they could be together.

Wearing a cap and red shirt, Herman shielded her face from waiting media with her arm as she was driven out of the prison.

She sat in the front passenger seat of a 4WD, believed to be driven by her lesbian lover Nicky Muscat, also wearing a cap and sunglasses.

About 20 minutes earlier, the boom gates of Tarrengower Prison had gone up.

Two minutes later, the light grey 4WD sped into the prison driveway almost on two wheels, heeding none of the entrance warnings asking drivers to slow down.

Muscat, a convicted fraudster, was released from jail last year.

Herman was sentenced to 12 years jail in 2005 with a non-parole period of nine years.

Tania Herman, the woman found guilty of attempting to murder Maria Korp by strangling her and stuffing her into a car boot in 2005, has walked free from prison.

Herman, who became eligible for parole on Friday, received a minimum nine-year jail term for attempting to kill Ms Korp.

The 50-year-old mother of two died after Herman strangled her with a strap and left her in the boot of her car on February 9, 2005.

Ms Korp was discovered in the car boot four days later, near the Shrine of Remembrance.

She lay in a vegetative state for six months before dying from her brain injuries.

The case became known as the “mum-in-the-boot” case.

Maria’s husband, Joe Korp, was charged with attempted murder over his wife’s death, but committed suicide on the day of her funeral.

Herman and Mr Korp were lovers.

With Herman widely expected to make parole, media camped outside Tarrengower minimum-security jail in Maldon, south-west of Bendigo, from early on Friday morning.

Fairfax Media photographer Daryl Pinder said that at about 8.15am, Herman was collected by a woman, believed to be her girlfriend, and the pair left the jail in a four-wheel-drive.

Herman’s application for parole went before the Adult Parole Board on January 23.

“After considering the relevant material, it was decided to release her on parole on 14 February 2014,” a spokesman for the board said.

If Herman breaches her parole conditions, such as breaking any law or leaving Victoria without permission, she can be returned to prison.

Tarrengower is the only minimum-security female prison in Victoria, with capacity for 72 prisoners.

The story of Ms Korp’s death was told in a TV movie in 2010.

 Tania Herman shares cell with Herman Rockefeller’s killer Bernadette Denny

February 22, 2012

MUM in the boot murder accomplice Tania Herman has revealed she is sharing a cell with millionaire businessman Herman Rockefeller’s killer, Bernadette Denny.

And, in her first interview since her sentence over the death of Maria Korp, Herman has defended Denny as a good woman.

The notorious duo are serving their respective sentences at Victoria’s Dame Phyllis Frost Centre.

Ms Herman is serving at least nine years for the attempted murder of Mrs Korp, the wife of Herman’s lover Joe, in 2005.

She has spoken of her regret over her “brainwashing” by Mr Korp.

“I am still amazed myself and think how the hell could I ever have gotten in so deep?” Ms Herman says in an interview to be published in the Australian Women’s Weekly today.

“My biggest regret is taking a mother away from her children because I would hate that to happen to me.”

Herman said she knew what she was doing was wrong when she waited in the Korps’ garage for Mrs Korp.

She choked and dumped the mother of two, barely alive, in a car boot. Mrs Korp died almost six months later, after life support was removed.

“As soon as I saw the blood, something snapped. I panicked. I put her in the boot of her car and just drove,” Herman said.

“As I was driving, I couldn’t stop crying. I kept thinking, ‘This is wrong, this is wrong’.”

In the interview, which appears in full in the book Partners and Crime, Herman gives an insight into life behind bars, revealing she is studying for a degree in fine arts.

She also speaks of her interest in cooking, dressing up as Santa Claus at Christmas and her friendship with Denny.

Herman claimed she was seduced by Joe Korp after meeting him through a dating website. They attended swingers’ parties and Mr Korp, facing allegations he hatched the murder plot, hanged himself on the night of his wife’s funeral.

Herman said she had had sporadic contact with her daughters while in jail.

 

 Tania Herman, the mistress of Joe Korp, who killed his wife Maria and her girlfriend go for a walk in Yarraville.

Tania Herman, the mistress of Joe Korp, who killed his wife Maria and her girlfriend go for a walk in Yarraville.

 

Luke Batty, 11, dies in horrific attack by his father, Greg Anderson at Tyabb cricket oval


UPDATE 14/02/14

Victoria’s Chief Police Commissioner Ken Lay says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade and there were five outstanding warrants for his arrest relating to domestic violence.

“We owe it to the community, we owe it to Luke, we owe it to Rosie to understand exactly what happened not only with police, but other services so the community can understand exactly what happened but I just hope that this may well be the next step to get so much better in the family violence space,”

 says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade

says police had been dealing with complaints against Anderson for at least a decade

Killer dad Greg Anderson tormented family for years, faced arrest warrants and threatened to kill Luke’s mother

We can reveal that Greg Anderson should have been behind bars when he murdered his son.

Police failed to execute ­arrest warrants in the weeks leading up to Wednesday night’s horrific incident.

Anderson was a violent drifter who had tormented his ­estranged family for years.

The warrants were issued after he repeatedly failed to turn up at court on charges of assaulting Luke’s mum and threatening to kill her.

It is understood four separate warrants for his arrest were issued throughout January but police failed to apprehend him.

Victoria Police said that its investigations would look into “not only the events on the night, but also all relevant circumstances which preceded them”.

The force said it would not be commenting further.

On May 16, 2012, Anderson assaulted Rosie Batty by grabbing her by the hair, pushing her to the ground and kicking her before threatening her with a glass vase.

Ms Batty told police she feared her former partner suffered from some form of mental disorder.

Anderson was also arrested and charged after making threats to kill her on January 3 last year.

During the incident Anderson allegedly said to Ms Batty: “Right now I really want to kill you. I want to cut off your foot. I hope you have made a will.”

Anderson was arrested again by police on May 27 last year after attending his son’s football training.

Sources say Anderson, who was living in his unregistered car, had little to do with his son for years before re-entering his life and taking his mother through a long court battle.

Although known to Hastings and Frankston police, who felt sorry for Ms Batty, Anderson’s legal matters were ongoing so he didn’t have prior convictions at the time of his death.

Despite the incidents of domestic violence in the past two years, Anderson and Ms Batty had tried to work out ­access visits for Luke. In addition to the threats to kill and assault charges, Anderson was also facing a charge relating to accessing child porn.

He was arrested after viewing the porn at Emerald Hill Library on November 17, 2012.

Library staff noticed what he was looking at and raised the alarm. When Anderson was arrested he was found with a USB stick containing the child porn images.

Sources say Anderson had psychological issues but refused to be assessed or treated.

It is believed family had wanted Anderson to get counselling but he had refused.

Considering there were warrants out for Anderson’s arrest, questions have been raised as to whether he should have been allowed to have an access visit.

A man who shared a house with Anderson said he had to ask him to leave after being threatened with death.

The man, who did not want to be named, had lived with Anderson in Chelsea Heights since late last year but decided three weeks ago he had to go.

“We knew he had psychological problems but we found out recently how crazy he was,” the man said yesterday.

“He threatened to kill me. I had to take out an intervention order against him. I was meant to go

LUKE Batty was seen with his father after 6pm, when training finished, doing extra batting practice.

It is understood about 20 minutes later, the father was spotted bending over the motionless boy.

Police believe the child had been struck to the head with a cricket bat and attacked with a knife as he lay prone on the field. It was initially thought Luke may have suffered a sporting injury so ambulance officers were called. They were confronted by a bloodied, knife-wielding Mr Anderson.

Four police arrived soon after and were menaced by Mr Anderson, who reportedly asked to be shot as he advanced on them. Capsicum spray had no impact and, as he then closed on one policeman, that officer fired one shot to the chest, felling Mr Anderson.

Police then moved in and cleared the weapon away but Mr Anderson continued to struggle as paramedics tried to get him into an ambulance and off to hospital.

No car connected to the armed dad was found at the scene, leading police to believe he may have caught the train from Chelsea Heights to Tyabb. A premeditated suicide-by-cop scenario is one element of the probe into the tragedy.

The father made no attempt to leave the scene after the attack on his son and continued to advance on police as the risk of being shot escalated.

Police Association Secretary Greg Davies said there was then no option but to fire.

“There’s every likelihood this is suicide-by-cop. You’ve got a knife and they’ve all got firearms,” Sen-Sgt Davies said.

“It’s a police officer’s worst nightmare to see a young tacker apparently murdered by a man who turns out to be his father, who then advances on you with a knife. They (police) appear to have done everything possible to avoid this outcome.”

Veteran police were shocked at the brutality, one comparing it with the actions of child-killers Robert Farquharson and Arthur Freeman. “This is horrific and it’s in front of other kids,” one officer said.

HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
May 2012: Anderson unlawfully assaults Rosemary Batty at her home in Tyabb by grabbing her hair, pushing her to the ground and kicking her before threatening her with a glass vase. Later charged.

November 2012: Caught by staff at Emerald Hill library viewing child porn on a public computer. Charged by police with viewing child porn and two months later possessing child porn when officers find him with a USB stick containing the images.

January 2013: Anderson again attends Ms Batty’s home and allegedly threatens to kill her. Arrested later that day and charged.

April 2013: Fails to appear in accordance with his bail conditions at Frankston Magistrates’ Court.

January 2014: Warrants are issued for Anderson’s arrest after repeated failures to attend his court dates.

What a tragic awful crime, committed in front of kids and families who just finished cricket training. It must have been so hard for paramedics trying to save this cowards life after he had just murdered his own son in cold blood. My heart goes out to the mum who was also there and witnessed it…

WHY does this happen?

UPDATE 5.30 pm 13/02/14

Rosie Batty in ‘disbelief’ after son Luke killed on cricket oval by father Greg, who had history of mental illness

By Monique Ross

The mother of an 11-year-old boy killed by his father at a cricket ground in Victoria has spoken of her shock, and revealed her estranged partner had a history of mental illness and was the subject of an apprehended violence order (AVO).

Luke Batty with his mother Rosie

Luke Batty with his mother Rosie

Luke Batty was killed in front of horrified onlookers after a cricket training session at the oval in the small town of Tyabb, south-east of Melbourne, on Wednesday evening.

His 54-year-old father Greg was shot by police at the scene and died in hospital early this morning.

Luke’s mother Rosie Batty was at the cricket ground when the tragedy unfolded, after her son asked for “a few more minutes” with his father.

This afternoon she described her “shock” and “disbelief” and told reporters her estranged partner Greg was a man who loved his son but had suffered from an undiagnosed mental illness for two decades.

“Luke was nearly as tall as me. He was sensitive. He enjoyed his footy, he enjoyed his cricket,” she said.

Luke was nearly as tall as me. He was effervescent, he was funny. He wasn’t the best scholar but he was intelligent.

“He was effervescent, he was funny. He wasn’t the best scholar but he was intelligent. He enjoyed his school.”

She says Luke loved his father and “felt pain” because he knew he was struggling.

“He was a little boy in a growing body that felt pain and sadness and fear for his mum, and he always believed he would be safe with his dad,” she said.

“[I told him] ‘you’ll always love your dad. You won’t always like what they do or say, but you’ll always love your dad, and he’ll always love you’.”

Father had long history of mental illness

Ms Batty says she had known Greg for 20 years, and over that time his mental health deteriorated.

“[He went] from someone who brushed off losing a job to someone that was unemployable,” she said.

“He was in a homelessness situation for many years. His life was failing. Everything was becoming worse in his life and Luke was the only bright light in his life.”

She says Greg had been offered help, but he failed to accept it, instead choosing to “believe he was OK”.

She had an AVO against Greg, but says he loved Luke and there were no signs he would ever hurt their son.

No-one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No-one loved Luke more than me. We both loved him.

“You’re dealing with someone who’s always had problems, and they start out small and over the years they get bigger, but he’s still the father,” she said.

“He loved his son. Everyone that’s involved with children would know that whatever action they take is not because they don’t love them.

“No-one loved Luke more than Greg, his father. No-one loved Luke more than me. We both loved him.”

She says people thought she was the one at risk, and some had urged her to return to her home country.

“Doctors, psychologists, everyone said to me, why don’t you go back to England and live there? But Luke wanted to be here,” she said.

“His school was here, his friends were here. And I had decided that was the right choice.”

‘Family violence happens to everybody’

Ms Batty says if there is a silver lining to be found in the tragedy, it will be increased awareness about the issue of family violence.

“I want to tell people that family violence happens to [anybody], no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are,” she said.

“When you’re involved with family violence, friends, family judge you, the woman. The decisions you should make, the decisions you don’t make.

I want to tell people that family violence happens to [anybody], no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are.

“You’re the victim, but you become the person that people condemn.

“The people here reading this will say ‘why didn’t she protect him, why didn’t she make certain decisions’.

“But when you actually finally decide enough is enough, and decide to go through a court process, you do not know what the outcome will be.

‘What I want people to take from this is that it isn’t simple. People judge you, people tell you what you should do. You do the best you can.”

She says she does not regret allowing Greg to have a relationship with his son despite the problems, as her “guiding star” was ensuring Luke knew he was loved by both of his parents.

Mother first thought it was an accident

Ms Batty says her son died after what was “just a normal cricket practice”.

“Most of the kids and parents had gone. Luke came to me and said, ‘could I have a few more minutes with my dad’ because he doesn’t see him very often and I said, ‘sure, OK’,” she said.

“There was no reason to be concerned. I thought it was in an open environment.”

She says when she realised something was wrong, she thought an accident had happened and tried to call an ambulance.

“I tried to ring but couldn’t ring because I was too stressed. I looked for help and I ran towards help, screaming ‘get an ambulance, this is really bad’,” she said.

“I thought Greg had accidentally hurt him from a bowling accident … and that Greg’s anguish was because he had hurt Luke accidentally.

“I was screaming, I was inconsolable.”

Paramedics called to the sports ground on Frankston-Flinders Road treated the boy but were unable to revive him.

Police are refusing to give more details of the incident, but some witnesses say a cricket bat was used.

Ms Batty says it was only later that she realised that what happened to Luke was not an accident.

“What I saw that I thought was Greg comforting Luke and helping him with what I thought was an accident, wasn’t necessarily what I saw,” she said.

“The full extent of what happened I don’t want anyone, other than the [coroner], to know.

“Luke was killed by his father. No-one else including myself needs to know the details of what he actually did.”

‘Police acted the way they needed to act’

Homicide detectives have spoken to several children who saw Luke die and then watched as police then shot his father.

Officers say they shot the man in the chest after he threatened them with a knife. Police say they tried to subdue him with capsicum spray but that did not work.

Greg, from Chelsea Heights, was flown to Melbourne’s Alfred Hospital, where he died about 1:30am.

Ms Batty says police did not do anything wrong.

“The police acted the way they needed to act. In the past Greg has been confrontational and difficult,” she said.

“The police had no other option.”

She says Greg had not violated terms of the AVO by attending the event.

“It was allowed from the intervention order. It was a public place, I believed he was safe,” she said.

“It was just a little cricket practice. There was people there, I believed he was safe.”

Ms Batty says she is grateful for the support of loved ones, and will soon be joined by family who are travelling to Australia from England.

February 13, 2014 12:02PM

EMOTIONAL friends have paid tribute online to an 11-year-old boy who was stabbed to death on the Mornington Peninsula last night.

Luke Batty was horrifically killed by his father during cricket training at Tyabb Cricket Ground about 6.30pm yesterday.

Paramedics frantically tried to revive the Grade 6 student, but he died at the scene from head injuries.

Tributes to the slain boy began pouring in on social media last night, with one Facebook page attracting nearly 6,000 members by 9am.

Carol Bennett said she was “so sorry that you were taken so early in your life and in such a horrific way.”

Tahila Williams wrote: “It’s sad to see such a young boy have his life taken away from him when he had done nothing wrong.”

Yvette Wagg said: “Very sad and shocked to hear this devastating news… Condolences to all”.

After the attack four police officers tried to subdue his knife-wielding father with capsicum spray before shooting him in the chest, witnesses said.

The Chelsea Heights man, 54, was taken to The Alfred hospital where he died about 1.30am, Victoria Police spokeswoman Natalie Webster said.

“I can confirm that the male that the police shot was the father of the deceased boy,” Commander Doug Fryer said last night.

The boy’s mother was at the ground.

“We’ve had an absolute tragedy here tonight,” Commander Fryer said from the scene.

“It’s a horrific scene.”

Speaking this morning, Commander Fryer said it had been a “shocking time” for the boy’s family, the witnesses at the scene and the officers involved.

“Our members were confronted by an incident that thankfully, it’s very rare when it happens, but when it does, they put their training into practice,” Commander Fryer told 3AW.

“They used an option that they thought appropriate and unfortunately we’ve now got two people dead.”

Commander Fryer said the boy’s mother, who was estranged from his father, was “in close proximity to where this happened”.

“I don’t know how a mother gets past losing her son in these sorts of ways,” he said.

Children were at the ground for cricket training and Commander Fryer said police wanted to speak to anyone who witnessed the incident.

“We spoke to a lot of people last night,” he said.

“Because cricket practice had just finished, we think there were probably kids down there and parents down there that may have seen something who we haven’t yet spoken to.

Luke’s classmates were told of his tragic death this morning when they arrived at Flinders Christian Community College in Tyabb.

The flag was flying at half-mast as parents, students and teachers rallied around each other.

Luke was remembered as a popular, happy child who loved life and enjoyed his sport at an emotional school meeting this morning.

Executive principal Jill Healey said the death of the popular Year 6 student was “an absolute shock and a tragedy”.

“There were lots of tears this morning,” she said.

She said the school community was coping as well as could be expected, and that counselling had been arranged for all those affected by Luke’s death.

Luke’s friends plan to hold a vigil for the 11-year-old at the cricket oval where he was killed.

The small community is reeling from the horrible crime and friends have already begun to bring flowers.

Taylor Cuthbertson, 15, said a friend of hers was a witness to the horrible scenes.

“He was just crying when he was telling me what happened.

“It’s so horrible.”

Emergency services were called to the oval on Frankston-Flinders Rd in Tyabb about 6.30pm yesterday following the vicious attack.

Witnesses said when officers from Mornington police station arrived, the father turned on them with a knife, forcing them to shoot him.

The man was flown to The Alfred hospital, where he later died.

The incident shocked the local community, with one resident describing it as “bloody horrific”.

Tyabb Cricket Club officials would not comment about the incident last night, saying it was “too raw”.

But the club’s junior cricket co-ordinator, Ron Dyall, said the boy — in grade 6 at Flinders Christian Community College — had played for the club for two or three years and was also an avid footballer.

Mr Dyall said he was devastated by what had happened.

“As his coach, I knew him pretty well,” he said.

“My own son plays in his team. I’m trying to figure out how to break it to him, and how we’re gonna deal with the kids.”

Local Wayne Murray, 64, said he heard what he thought was fireworks about the time of the shooting.

He said “a shiver (ran) down my spine” when he learned the sounds were gunshots.

“I heard a couple of pop pops,” he said.

“It didn’t sound unusually loud. I’ve never seen anything like this. It doesn’t happen here.”

Melissa, 37, who did not wish to give her surname, said her father had also heard gunshots.

“We heard helicopters going over the oval,” she said. “I have an 11-year-old. I was nearly in tears when I heard.”

Commander Fryer said four local officers were confronted by the knife-wielding man when they arrived about 6.40pm.

“They’ve attempted to use less than lethal force (OC foam). They’ve attempted to talk him down. That has been unsuccessful,” he said.

“They have then discharged a firearm, hitting that male once in the chest.”

Commander Fryer said police were still working to ­determine what caused the local boy’s death.

He could not confirm reports the boy was being beaten by his father with a cricket bat when police ­arrived, but said he suffered “significant injuries”.

 

 

 

Family of Bevan Meninga murder victim Cheree Richardson dreading imminent parole


This case is one of disgusting sick depraved torture and murder in my view, the case is so sad to read and this mongrel is getting out on parole. No one the family are scared. Bevan is the brother of famous Rugby league legend and coach Mal Meninga (an ex cop) some say he has had some influence on the case, who knows…

But big generous Mal, has offered for the crim to stay with him, can you imagine the freedom he would have with Mal away constantly coaching football etc? What a bloody joke that is, and reflects poorly on Mal being an ex cop, to think he is able to properly supervise and guide (grrrrrrrrr) his animal of a brother on parole.

FLASHBACK The Daily, August 7, 1992

FLASHBACK The Daily, August 7, 1992

Kay Dibben
The Courier-Mail
February 12, 2014

THE parents of Sunshine Coast murder victim Cheree Richardson are dreading the imminent release from jail of her killer, Mal Meninga’s brother Bevan Meninga.

Family of Bevan Meninga murder victim Cheree Richardson dreading imminent parole  Kay Dibben  The Courier-Mail  February 12, 2014  THE parents of Sunshine Coast murder victim Cheree Richardson are dreading the imminent release from jail of her killer, Mal Meninga’s brother Bevan Meninga.  Bevan Meninga, 42, who has served 21 years behind bars, could be out of jail within weeks on conditional parole. Meninga brother set to walk free  Famous brother made prison life hell  Meninga’s parole bid for brother It is understood a condition of his parole will be that he not live on the Sunshine Coast, where Cheree was killed, which means he cannot live with his mother as he had planned. Mal Meninga, who also offered his brother a home with his family in Brisbane, said yesterday his brother would be living with a sponsor outside his household. “But we’ll be there providing support for him, and we’ll visit him on a regular basis to ensure that he’s happy, he’s being looked after, he’s cared for,’’ he said. Meninga said the family would help his brother reintegrate into the community. “It’s really important the Meninga family get behind him,’’ Meninga said. Bevan Meninga murdered Richardson in 1991 by hitting her with a tree branch, later claiming he had been intoxicated at the time. Mal Meninga said yesterday his brother was extremely remorseful for what he had done and had “a lot of empathy for the victim and her family’’. Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group general manager Ross Thompson said Cheree’s parents Helen and John Richardson were dreading Bevan Meninga’s release. He said they did not want him back on the Sunshine Coast. “It’s where it all happened,’’ Mr Thompson said. “Now he is about to be out on parole it brings it all back to the family, it makes them feel very insecure, regardless of where he will live. “This takes them back to the very first days it happened.’’ Bevan Meninga took the Queensland Parole Board to the Supreme Court last month to force it to make a decision on his parole application, after waiting more than a year. The board has not yet approved his parole because conditions, including where he will live, are still being finalised. Conditions against his use of alcohol and illicit drugs also are expected, as psychiatrists and the board have expressed concern about the risk of him returning to substance abuse. Both Mal Meninga’s home and that of their mother were assessed for suitability for Bevan Meninga by probation and parole officers. On January 29 the board wrote to Meninga saying he might pose “an unacceptably high level of risk if released from custody at this stage’’, but invited him to make submissions.

Family of Bevan Meninga murder victim Cheree Richardson dreading imminent parole 

Bevan Meninga, 42, who has served 21 years behind bars, could be out of jail within weeks on conditional parole.

Meninga brother set to walk free

Famous brother made prison life hell

Meninga’s parole bid for brother

It is understood a condition of his parole will be that he not live on the Sunshine Coast, where Cheree was killed, which means he cannot live with his mother as he had planned.

Mal Meninga, who also offered his brother a home with his family in Brisbane, said yesterday his brother would be living with a sponsor outside his household

Queensland Origin coach Mal Meninga has offered to have his brother live with him if paroled.

Queensland Origin coach Mal Meninga has offered to have his brother live with him if paroled.

“But we’ll be there providing support for him, and we’ll visit him on a regular basis to ensure that he’s happy, he’s being looked after, he’s cared for,’’ he said.

Meninga said the family would help his brother reintegrate into the community.

“It’s really important the Meninga family get behind him,’’ Meninga said.

Bevan Meninga murdered Richardson in 1991 by hitting her with a tree branch, later claiming he had been intoxicated at the time.

He not only hit her with the tree branch, the sick bastard, use you imagination folks…sick

Mal Meninga said yesterday his brother was extremely remorseful for what he had done and had “a lot of empathy for the victim and her family’’.

Queensland Homicide Victims Support Group general manager Ross Thompson said Cheree’s parents Helen and John Richardson were dreading Bevan Meninga’s release. He said they did not want him back on the Sunshine Coast.

“It’s where it all happened,’’ Mr Thompson said.

“Now he is about to be out on parole it brings it all back to the family, it makes them feel very insecure, regardless of where he will live.

“This takes them back to the very first days it happened.’’

Bevan Meninga took the Queensland Parole Board to the Supreme Court last month to force it to make a decision on his parole application, after waiting more than a year.

The board has not yet approved his parole because conditions, including where he will live, are still being finalised.

Conditions against his use of alcohol and illicit drugs also are expected, as psychiatrists and the board have expressed concern about the risk of him returning to substance abuse.

Both Mal Meninga’s home and that of their mother were assessed for suitability for Bevan Meninga by probation and parole officers.

On January 29 the board wrote to Meninga saying he might pose “an unacceptably high level of risk if released from custody at this stage’’, but invited him to make submissions.

Mal Meninga in parole bid for brother Bevan, serving time for murder

LEAGUE legend Mal Meninga offered to have his brother Bevan, a convicted murderer, live in his Brisbane family home if he was released on parole.

Mal Meninga's letter in support of his brother.

Mal Meninga’s letter in support of his brother.

Bevan, who has served 21 years for the “horrific killing” of 19-year-old Cheree Richardson, has gone to court to force the Queensland Parole Board to make a decision.

Early last year, a probation and parole officer assessed Mal’s home’s suitability for Bevan, saying Mal had agreed to have him live there.

However, late last year Bevan applied to live with their mother on the Sunshine Coast, where Cheree was murdered, Supreme Court documents show.

In his latest release plan, filed in court, Bevan said his brother had offered to move him and his mother to Brisbane after his initial community reintegration on the Sunshine Coast.

“If the move to Brisbane is approved, my brother has full-time employment,” the document says.

Mal wrote in a letter to the board in 2012 that he “supported Bevan by phone, letters and visits over the term of his incarceration and have kept a keen interest in his welfare”.

“I believe family support is so invaluable, regardless of his wrongdoing … the family love, respect and support is paramount to his reintegration,” the letter states.

“Whilst as a family we don’t condone his actions of the past, I will make certain that Bevan will have the necessary family support during his reintegration.”

Last week, the Queensland Parole Board said Bevan might pose “an unacceptably high level of risk if released from custody at this stage” and gave him two weeks to prove otherwise.

Bevan murdered Cheree in 1991 by hitting her with a tree branch.

She had massive head and internal injuries.

The board says it is concerned Bevan, who claimed he was intoxicated at the time, could reoffend if he returned to alcohol or drug abuse.

Bevan has been eligible for parole since 2005 but has been kept in jail and has been waiting since January last year for a decision on his ­latest application.

He is at a low-security ­prison farm in Rathdowney.

A MAN who partied with teenager Cheree Richardson just an hour before her murder says he is still haunted by that night, 23 years after she was murdered.

Gavin Seib told the Daily yesterday that he believed the man convicted of Cheree’s rape and killing, Bevan Meninga, should never be released from prison.

Mr Seib spoke for the first time about his deep feeling of regret after going home early that night rather than staying around to make sure his new friend was safe.

He said he has battled to suppress his deep guilt for more than two decades.

His emotional problems erupted in stress and mental difficulties last year.

He decided to finally speak publicly about that horrific time in his life after reading reports that Meninga, who was jailed for life over the murder, may be released on parole – possibly as soon as today.

“I was talking to a girl who was brutally murdered an hour later,” Mr Seib said about that night in Mooloolaba.

“It has affected me my entire life.

“She was a lovely person, me and her got on like a house on fire, and over the years this has mentally stuffed me up.”

Mr Seib was 22 and out on the town when he met Cheree.

They chatted, laughed, he bought her drinks, they had a great time.

They even talked about his girlfriend, who Cheree had wanted to meet.

“We made plans to catch up after that night, but we never had the chance.

“I just want to say what a wonderful person she was.

“She’ll always be in my heart to the day I die.”

Cheree’s mutilated body was found two days later in dense parkland at Alexandra Headland.

Mr Seib, now 46, said he regrets leaving early that fateful night.

He believes he should have ensured his new friend’s safety before he left.

“I blamed myself,” he said of the death.

“When I left, I turned around to see her and I saw she was with him and he would look after her.

“I put my trust in him.”

“(I should have asked), ‘Are you right? Do you need a lift home?’

“She was a nice, lovely, happy-go-lucky woman and for someone to do that to her was horrific.”

Mr Seib, a prawn fisherman, is adamant that Meninga should remain behind bars for the murder.

“He got a life sentence, doesn’t that mean life?”

“It’s about time they stopped all this.

“People who murder people should get what they were sentenced.”

He also advised anyone who was struggling with deep guilt or anxiety to seek help soon from a doctor.

“It’ll do (them) a world of good to speak to someone about it.”

 

Child bride, 12, was married in her father’s house-here in Australia


This is just not on and is outrageous, a little girl only 12 years old married off to a 26-year-old. It is more common than we think and it HAS TO STOP NOW. This is criminal, and I do not care if you are a Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist or from Mars. This is AUSTRALIA and it is illegal in this country full stop. Protecting the children is paramount to anything else whether it be religious beliefs or so-called wishes of a child or parent! A bloody child wishing to get married, it’s ridiculous to entertain the thought

UPDATE 13/02/14

Father of 12-year-old child bride charged, but thinks has ‘done nothing wrong’

THE father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of the Islamic marriage scandal appeared before a court yesterday charged with procuring his young daughter for sex.

The 61-year-old, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, “is of the belief he has done nothing wrong,” Raymond Terrace Local Court was told.

The court also heard the man had a disregard for NSW laws and believed his daughter was “in love” with her 26-year-old “husband”.

THE SHAME OF OUR CHILD BRIDE EPIDEMIC

MOSQUE SACKS IMAM WHO ‘MARRIED’ COUPLE

O’FARRELL WELCOMES ARREST OVER ‘MARRIAGE’

Magistrate Caleb Franklin rejected the man’s bail application yesterday, citing a strong prosecution case and the likelihood of a jail term if he was convicted.

Police charged the father with procuring a child for unlawful sexual activity and being an accessory before the fact to someone having sexual intercourse with a child.

“The defendant has a disregard for the laws of this state,” Mr Franklin said in denying the man bail.

The man’s Legal Aid solicitor said her client, an osteoarthritis sufferer, would find time in custody “very difficult”.

The court heard the man had co-operated with detectives in interviews but disputed much of the police facts including the allegations he facilitated the marriage.

His solicitor said her client claimed his daughter was a “very, very mature strong-willed woman” and he thought the man was about 18-19.

“He said ‘they’re in love and it’s a strong love’ and at this point he’s trying to be supportive of his children,” she said.

Charge sheets tendered in court allege the girl’s father procured her for sexual activity with her future “husband” from when the couple met at a Hunter Valley mosque in November last year until they were allegedly married on January 12.

Outside court, it emerged the girl wrote on a blog site her father told her to wear a hijab to school when she was 11.

“When I was 11 my Dad made the decision I should wear hijab to school,” she wrote.

“To be honest I didn’t want to wear hijab to school. I was afraid of what all the other kids would say or think about me. But when I went to school the next day it wasn’t that bad.”

Charges against the girl’s father followed the alleged wedding of the man’s then 12-year-old daughter in their family living room to a 26-year-old Lebanese man last month.

The girl’s “husband” is in custody charged with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with a child.

Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.

Imam Riaz Tasawar from the Mayfield Mosque, who “married” the 12-year-old girl to the 26-year-old man.

The imam who allegedly performed the ceremony, Riaz Tasawar, 35, was charged with solemnising a marriage without authority and will face court in April.

UPDATE 11/02/14

Police have arrested and charged an imam accused of conducting the marriage of a 12-year-old girl in the Hunter Valley this year.

Detectives from the Child Abuse Squad arrested the 35-year-old Pakistan-born man outside Parramatta police station about 4.30pm on Monday afternoon, police said.

They charged him with solemnisation of a marriage by an unauthorised person.

Police will allege he agreed to conduct a ceremony after he was approached by a 26-year-old man, who was eager to marry the girl.

The 26-year-old, a Lebanese man who is living in Australia on a student visa, has   with 25 counts of having sexual intercourse with an underage child.

He is in custody and is expected to make an application for bail before Burwood Local Court on Wednesday.

It had been reported the imam had gone to ground.

“He was located outside the police station,” a police spokesman said.

“It wasn’t arrest by appointment or anything like that, just that we happened to find him outside the police station.”

The spokesman said the imam was not related to the girl.

The imam was released on strict conditional bail and is expected to appear before Parramatta Local Court on April 2.

The girl’s father needs his head read, he talks below, and then further down, how this crime was discovered.

THE Muslim convert father of the 12-year-old girl at the centre of a child sex case following her “marriage” to a 26-year-old foreigner confessed his unhappiness at their union, but said “it was not my decision” WTF ??? IS this father kidding himself? How could he allow this to happen

But the fifth-generation Australian man, who allowed the pair to be married by an imam in his Hunter Valley home on January 12, now says he fears she is going to “die” from a broken heart.

The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command's Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.

The man, 26, is behind bars tonight after being arrested by the Sex Crime Command’s Child Abuse Squad after his marriage to a 12-year-old girl was discovered.

He also addressed public outrage on the case following the 26-year-old Lebanese man’s arrest on Thursday, saying he might “cop a little bit of abuse off people but I will have to cope with that”.

“She was crying like I have never heard before, they were telling her she couldn’t see (the man) today or tomorrow or possibly forever,’’ he said. “She’s being restrained against her will in foster care.

“There’s nothing I can do at the moment, I’ve got the feeling she might die because she’s so hurt by all of this.”

The pair met at a Hunter Valley mosque late last year after the 26-year-old came to Australia to study at a nearby university.

He approached the mosque about marrying the girl but the Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said he was turned away because it was illegal and “wrong”.

He then approached the girl’s father — who converted to Islam about 18 years ago following a battle with drugs, gambling and alcohol abuse — through an intermediary, who told him of the man’s intentions.

He initially refused but agreed to let him come to his house to meet his daughter.

He said it was almost over before it began when she found out he was 26, but she changed her mind.

“She was saying she wanted to get married, I said before there was going to be problems because he was from Lebanon,’’ the father said. “I told him to go back to Lebanon, not nastily.”

The girl’s father said his initial concerns were more religiously guided than the man’s or his daughter’s ages.

However, he said the only way they could be in any type of relationship, let alone in the same room un-chaperoned, under “my interpretation of the Koran” was if they were married.

“My daughter was not going to change her mind, I couldn’t talk her out of it,’’ he said.

“Him being 26 was not a big concern to me because I was not marrying him. I was not happy with it but it was not my decision.”

He said the couple moved to western Sydney after the marriage. He said they tried to enrol his daughter at a local high school but were told to go to Centrelink to ascertain her guardianship.

The father said a social worker at Centrelink raised the alarm before police and the Department of Community Services intervened.

The man was refused bail at Burwood Local Court on Friday after being charged by Child Abuse Squad detectives with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

Her father, who was interviewed and released without charge, said he knew people would ask how could he let his 12-year-old daughter live with an older man, let alone marry him, but he didn’t “want to stop her happiness”.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward said on Friday she was horrified by the case.

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said

Alleged underage marriage uncovered when a 12-year-old child bride and husband, 26, tried to apply for spousal benefits

The Daily Telegraph
February 08, 2014

AN alleged under-age marriage was uncovered this week when a 12-year-old child bride and her 26-year-old husband tried to apply for spousal benefits, according to government sources.

Centrelink sources say the girl was removed from the home she shared with her 26-year-old “husband” hours after enquiring about what support would be available to a spousal visa holder on Wednesday morning.

Concerns also emerged after the man attempted to enrol the girl in a Western Sydney high school.

Newcastle Muslim Association president Bikash “Shahriar” Paul said the accused man was an “occasional” worshipper at a mosque in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney, where he met the girl.

Mr Paul said he believed the man was originally from Lebanon but had moved to the Hunter Region to study computers at a nearby university about nine months ago.

It’s understood police will allege the marriage took place in a backyard in Sydney’s west on January 11.

After hearing reports about the charges yesterday morning on radio Mr Paul said he called the girl’s father who confirmed “it’s my girl”.

He said the girl’s father “was aware” of the marriage and that police had contacted him on Thursday but did not elaborate further.

The man was arrested by detectives from the Child Abuse Squad and charged with 25 counts of sexual intercourse with a child.

He was denied bail at Burwood court yesterday and will reappear next Wednesday.

Shocked residents in the western Sydney suburb where the couple lived expressed anger about the alleged offences.

One neighbour said before they moved in they had mistakenly gone to the wrong house for an inspection. She said she saw the girl wearing a pink hijab and her partner apologised for the intrusion.

A leading Islamic health services counsellor has warned that hundreds of children as young as eleven are being sent overseas to be married after being “shopped” on Facebook.

Ms Sharobeem, the Director of the Immigrant Women’s Health Services, said children were involved in illegal marriages both in Australia and overseas: “It’s far more prevalent and well-known than people think.”

Minister for Family and Community Services, Pru Goward conceded the problem was more widespread than the case identified yesterday, saying her department had heard of “significant numbers of unlawful, unregistered marriages in NSW, particularly in south-west Sydney, western Sydney and the Blue Mountains.”

“In this country, little girls have rights and in particular they have the right to a childhood free from this kind of abuse,” she said.

The legal marrying age in Australia is 18 unless a court has approved a marriage where one party is aged between 16 and 18.