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.
Catherine Long was a student protection officer at the Toowoomba primary school where teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes molested 13 female students, all aged between nine and 10, in 2007 and 2008.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is looking at why Byrnes was allowed to go on offending for more than a year after allegations were first made against him to the school.
Byrnes, the school’s child protection contact, pleaded guilty in 2010 to child sex offences, including rape. He carried out all but two of his crimes in the classroom.
Ms Long, who still teaches at the school,was today questioned by the commission in Brisbane as to why she did not refer one student’s complaint to police or authorities.
She said some of the relevant school protocols were difficult to understand and she was reluctant to believe her colleague was a paedophile.
“And I don’t get that our children, with all of this student protection and everything else that we have, didn’t have the courage to come forward,” she said.
Ms Long also told the hearing she believed referring the matter to police was the principal’s responsibility.
“I was there as the note-taker – he was in charge, not me,” she said.
Principal told but no action taken
One of the parents reported that his daughter’s accusations of abuse to the principal at the time, Terrence Hayes, as well as another teacher, but neither related the accusations to the police.
“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls,” said Monique Scattini, who legally represented the families of five of the abused girls.
Mr Hayes was charged with failing to tell police about the abuse complaints, but was later acquitted. He is expected to give evidence later this week.
No action was taken against Byrnes, a veteran teacher and father of eight children, until a parent of an abused girl went directly to the police.
“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those,” said Janette Dines, the chief executive of the commission.
“And in this case, the abuse not just continued but escalated after the first complaints were made.”
The parents of three of the victims fronted the commission today, with one mother saying the school’s refusal to act on allegations was “disgusting”.
Another mother of an abuse victim said she and other parents were ostracised by the school community after they complained about the abuse, and how the school had dealt with their concerns.
“The parents of the victims were made out to be the bad guys,” she said.
Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the Church’s Truth Justice Healing Council, admits the case was mishandled.
“There’s no doubt that there would still be considerable anger at the Church over its handling [of this case],” he said.
“We’ve discussed the loss of trust about what’s occurring … [in a] close-knit community something like this really goes to the heart of relationships.”
The hearing is expected to last for five days.
Royal commission to probe handling of reports of abuse by Gerard Vincent Byrnes at Toowoomba School
By Emily Bourke
The child abuse royal commission will today turn its attention to how staff and Catholic Church officials at a Toowoomba primary school in south-east Queensland dealt with allegations of sexual offences against girls between 2007 and 2008.
In 2010, veteran teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes pleaded guilty to child sex offences committed against 13 girls and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is taking a closer look at how the school dealt with the complaints.
Monique Scattini represented the families of five victims who took legal action and says the abuse could have been prevented.
“One of the parents went to the principal, reported allegations that his daughter had made to him,” Ms Scattini said.
“There was subsequently a meeting with the principal and another teacher … who conducted an interview with the young girl and her father.
“At the end of that meeting neither the principal nor the teacher reported the matter to police.
“The teacher wasn’t suspended, he remained in the class for the last term, and then a whole new school year in 2008 where, sadly, he went on to abuse more of the young girls.
“And it was absolutely preventable if anyone in Catholic Education had have done their job.
“I know it could have been prevented because when the teacher was arrested, he admitted to the offences.”
Mandatory reporting laws were put to the test, but the principal was found not guilty of failing to refer the allegation to police.
Ms Scattini says the response from the broader school community was also upsetting for the victims’ families.
Audio: Listen to Emily Bourke’s report for AM (AM)
“Sadly the school didn’t rally at all around the parents or the young girls who were the victims,” she said.
“Instead all the support was thrown behind the principal.
“A number of staff and parents in the school community were wearing badges and ribbons in support for him as they would attend school grounds or in-court hearings for both the criminal prosecution of the paedophile and the principal.
“So they [the victims] felt incredibly ostracised.”
‘Procedures not followed to the letter’
Royal commission chief executive Janette Dines says this particular case is striking, given that procedures were in place to deal with reports of abuse.
“Given that we have just finished looking at what some people would call historical abuse with the Salvation Army, this is quite confronting for a lot of people who might have thought that abuse was in the past,” Ms Dines said.
“What is also quite striking about this case is the fact is that the abuse against these girls, who were all aged eight to 10 at the time, occurred predominantly in the classroom in front of other children.
“And I think the other striking thing is the fact that this isn’t a case where there weren’t systems and procedures in place.
“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.
“There actually were systems and procedures in place and they had been accredited, but still there was something that prevented the strong application of those.”
Ms Dines says it is likely other students at the school were aware of the abuse.
“There is a sense that the children as a group were aware of what was going on,” she said.
“And whilst one of the girls had the courage to come forward, the sense of fear and powerlessness when it was obvious that she wasn’t believed and nothing happened is a big feature of the impact that that’s had on this group of children.”
Francis Sullivan, from the Catholic Church’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, says the school community are still coming to terms with the events.
“What happened in this particular case is so alien to what a church is about, people carry that with them for a very long time,” Mr Sullivan said.
“When I visited Toowoomba recently and even went to the school and spoke to people in the staff room, it is quite clear that the experiences of 2007 and 2008 are still fresh.
“In the local community it’s extremely potent and fresh and so it should be.
“This was such a travesty, and such a tragedy and the trust that a community should put in a Catholic Church school and certainly in the Catholic Church was really eroded and the scars of that remain.”
Advocacy group initiates investigation of Family Court
Meanwhile, long-time advocate for child abuse victims, Hetty Johnston, is optimistic about the public hearing.
“They are getting to the crux of matters – they are taking no prisoners and the ramifications for this are not just going to affect Australia’s children and organisations, the threads of this lead right around the globe,” Ms Johnston said.
The royal commission’s terms of reference are limited to looking at institutions and how they have responded to child sexual abuse.
Ms Johnston says the inquiry should be expanded as it does not look into abuse that occurs in the family.
The founder of Bravehearts has told the ABC that the children’s advocacy group has received funding from a private benefactor to conduct its own investigation of the Family Court.
It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.
“It’s as though the shutters have come down, and they’ve said, ‘well, you can look in the churches, and you can go anywhere else but don’t you come looking in here’.
“Bravehearts are determined to go looking there, and we are going to go looking there.
“We are going to do this investigation. We have some private funding to make that happen.”
Ms Johnston says the Family Court is an institution that cannot be ignored.
“We cannot let this opportunity go, where finally, as a nation, we are focusing on this most heinous of ways to offend against children, and not look at the modern-day issues that are facing our children,” she said.
“They are not the homes any more, or the institutions, the churches.
“It’s now the legal process that causes so much damage to children and families who are already in a lot of trouble.
“We need to get that right, and unless they do that, we’re going to be having this again in 15 years’ time.”
Principal barred for paedophile inaction
A QUEENSLAND Catholic primary school headmaster who failed to stop a pedophile teacher from repeatedly abusing his female students has been barred from serving as a principal.
Terence Michael Hayes admitted to a tribunal that he failed to protect students after receiving a complaint in 2007 that one of his teachers, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, had molested a member of his Year 4 class at the school in Toowoomba.
When Byrnes retired in mid-2008, Mr Hayes obtained approval from the Catholic Education Office to rehire the pedophile, then 58, as a casual teacher.
Byrnes was jailed in 2010 for committing 44 sexual offences against 13 girls – all aged nine and 10 – between January 2007 and November 2008.
Mr Hayes was the first person in Australia to be charged under laws requiring reporting to police of suspicions of child-sex abuse, but he was acquitted in 2009.
The Queensland College of Teachers has now taken action in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, obtaining orders that Mr Hayes undertake 50 hours of community service and that he never again act as a principal, acting principal or as a child protection contact.
He was also handed a two-year suspension from teaching, wholly suspended on account of his sporadic work history since his dismissal in December 2009.
He resumed teaching fulltime last year.
The September 2007 complaint received by Mr Hayes indicated that Byrnes had kissed a girl on the cheek, put his hand through a girl’s shirt and placed his hand on the upper leg of a girl.
Byrnes admitted to Mr Hayes that he had placed girls on his lap in class, spoken to girls in the playground, given lollies to students and allowed students to visit his class.
Mr Hayes reported the allegation to the Catholic Education Office, but Byrnes was not monitored or removed from his role as a student protection contact.
In written reasons published this month, QCAT said: “The young students who were the victims of Mr Byrnes’ conduct have suffered … serious and long-lasting consequences.
“Principals must be deterred from similar failings.”
Byrnes was jailed for 10 years in 2010, and will be eligible for parole in 2016.
No appeal for pedophile teacher
Peter Hardwick | 12th March 2011
ARGUABLY Toowoomba’s most despised individual, pedophile school teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes, has escaped serving any more time in jail.
The Court of Appeal in Brisbane yesterday rejected an Attorney General’s appeal against the leniency of the sentence handed down in Toowoomba District Court to the 61-year-old who admitted 44 sexual offences against girl students aged just nine and 10.
Byrnes’ offences included the rape of six girls in his care and the ongoing grooming of one child.
Many of the offences had occurred in the classroom environment at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school and at times in front of other students.
Adding to the abhorrence of his crimes, Byrnes had at the time been the school’s designated Child Protection Officer.
He was sentenced to 10 years jail, a sentence then Attorney General Cameron Dick appealed claiming the penalty was inadequate for such serious offending in Brynes’ position as the victims’ class teacher.
Tony Moynihan SC, for the Attorney General’s appeal, argued the sentence was inadequate for a “gross breach of trust and abuse of power”.
The appeal sought to increase the jail term up to 15 years.
However, in a unanimous judgement brought down yesterday and published on the Courts Queensland website, Chief Justice Paul de Jersey, Justice John Muir and Justice Margaret White dismissed the appeal, finding the sentence handed down by Judge Sarah Bradley was “supported by the comparable sentences” handed down in the past for like cases.
The Court of Appeal said due leniency had to be applied when sentencing offenders who admitted their guilt.
The ruling quoted passages from a previous judgement, which stated:
“An offender who pleads guilty saves the community the cost of a trial.
“In some kinds of case, particularly offences involving young persons, the offender’s pleas of guilty avoids the serious harm that may be done by requiring the victim to describe yet again, and thus relive, their part in the conduct that is to be punished.”
Byrnes was declared at sentence a serious violent offender, meaning he has to serve at least 80% of his 10-year term.
However, having served almost two years pre-sentence custody by the time he was sentenced, he will be eligible for release from prison in 2016.
10-year sentence sticks for teacher who molested schoolgirls
A TOOWOOMBA teacher who molested 13 schoolgirls escaped a higher sentence when the Court of Appeal today refused an application by the Attorney General to increase his 10 years jail time.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, who appeared for the then Attorney General Cameron Dick, had asked Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence be set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.
Mr Moynihan said the 10-year sentence failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.
He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.
However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his clients favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.
Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish free life and been a productive member of the community.
In an unanimous judgment the Court of Appeal dismissed the Attorney General’s appeal.
Justice John Muir said the mitigating circumstances, in particular Byrnes’ early guilty plea and his admissions to police, when combined with comparable cases relied on by the Attorney General, an increase in sentence was not warranted.
He said comparable sentences used by Mr Byrne had supported a 10-year sentence.
The Chief Justice Paul de Jersey and Justice Margaret White agreed the appeal should be dismissed.
In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape, and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.
Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and he must serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.
He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.
Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and ten, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.
The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.
|Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal
You are here: AustLII >> Databases >> Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal >> 2011 >>  QCA 40
[Database Search] [Name Search] [Recent Decisions] [Noteup] [Download] [Help]
R v. Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld)  QCA 40 (11 March 2011)
Last Updated: 14 March 2011
SUPREME COURT OF QUEENSLAND
||R v Byrnes; ex parte A-G (Qld)  QCA 40
BYRNES, Gerard Vincent
EX PARTE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF QUEENSLAND
||CA No 246 of 2010DC No 894 of 2009
||Court of Appeal
||Sentence Appeal by A-G (Qld)
||District Court at Toowoomba
||11 March 2011
||17 February 2011
||Chief Justice and Muir and White JJASeparate reasons for judgment of each member of the Court, each concurring as to the order made
||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;  HCA 46, cited
R v D  QCA 88, distinguished
R v D’Arcy (2001) 122 A Crim R 268;  QCA 325, considered
R v Ellis (1986) 6 NSWLR 603, cited
R v HAV  QCA 259, followed
R v MBG & MBH  QCA 252, distinguished
R v TS  2 Qd R 276;  QCA 370, followed
R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld)  QCA 249, distinguished
||A W Moynihan SC, with A D Anderson, for the appellantM J Byrne QC for the respondent
||Director of Public Prosecutions (Queensland) for the appellantPeter Shields Lawyers for the respondent
 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.
 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.
 The appellant Attorney-General appealed on the grounds that the sentences imposed were inadequate.
The circumstances of the offending
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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
 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.
 In determining the respondent’s sentence the primary judge derived assistance from R v D’Arcy  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
 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.
 Reliance was placed on R v D, R v MBG & MBH, R v ZA; ex parte A-G (Qld) and R v D’Arcy.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Counsel for the respondent submitted that the primary judge’s sentence was also supported by R v TS and R v HAV.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 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.
 Of particular relevance for present purposes is the following passage from the reasons of Street CJ in R v Ellis, quoted with approval by Hayne J in AB v The Queen:
“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.”
 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.”
 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.
 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.
  QCA 88.
  QCA 252.
  QCA 249.
  QCA 325; (2001) 122 A Crim R 268.
  QCA 370;  2 Qd R 276.
  QCA 259.
 (1986) 6 NSWLR 603 at 604.
  HCA 46; (1999) 198 CLR 111 at 155, 156.
Former Catholic teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes gets 10 years for abuse of young schoolgirls
A 10-year jail sentence for a Catholic teacher and child protection officer did not reflect the enormity of the grand scale of his sexual misconduct with 13 young schoolgirls, a court heard today.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Tony Moynihan, SC, was making submissions to the Court of Appeal in an effort to have Gerard Vincent Byrnes sentence set aside and one of up to 15 years imposed.
Mr Moynihan was appearing for the Attroney General, Cameron Dick, who had appealed the 10-year sentence on the grounds it failed to reflect the gravity of the offence, it failed to act as a sufficient deterrent, and the sentencing judge gave too much weight to mitigating factors.
In the District Court in Toowoomba last year, Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 44 child-sex offences including maintaining a sexual relationship with a child, rape and indecent dealing between 2007 and 2008.
Byrnes was classed as an automatic serious violent offender and will have to serve eight years before he is eligible for parole.
He has already served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody and will be eligible for parole in 2016.
Byrnes, who had worked in Catholic schools in NSW and Queensland since 1970 as both teacher and principal, admitted abusing 13 girls aged between eight and 10, sometimes in front of his grade 4 class.
The court heard Byrnes had stopped abusing one girl as he mistakenly thought she had reported him but the girl who had actually reported him continued to be molested.
In the Court of Appeal today, Mr Moynihan said Byrnes’ offences, which had devastated both the victims and their families, should have brought a sentence at the higher end of the 10 to 15 year range.
“The sentence does not reflect the enormity of his offending of sexual misdconduct on a grand scale involving 13 girls,” Mr Moynihan said.
He said Byrnes maintained a sexual relationsip with one girl, raped five others and indecently dealt with seven others.
Mr Moynihan said the offences extended over two years during which Byrnes was the school’s child protection officer.
He said it was an abuse of power and the 10-year jail sentence did not adequately denounce the behaviour or mark deterrence.
However, Michael Byrne, QC, for Byrnes, said the 10-year sentence was adequate because there were substantial mitigating factors in his client’s favour including his early plea and genuine remorse in writing an apology to his victims.
Mr Byrne said his client had led a blemish-free life and been a productive member of the community.
The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment. 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.
Queensland Attorney-General to appeal child rapist Gerard Vincent Byrnes’ eight-year term
- October 22, 2010 2:11PM
THE Queensland government will appeal a 10-year sentence given to a staff member found guilty of the rape and sexual abuse of students in his care at a Toowoomba school.
Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty in April to 44 charges – 33 of indecent treatment of a child under 16, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining an unlawful relationship with a child.
The incidents occurred while Byrnes was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.
Byrnes was sentenced to serve eight years behind bars before being eligible for parole.
Having served nearly two years in pre-sentence custody, he could have been released in 2016.
Attorney-General Cameron Dick announced today he would appeal the sentence.
“Today I have lodged an appeal in the Court of Appeal in Brisbane against the sentence imposed on Gerard Vincent Byrnes for the offences of rape, maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship, and indecent treatment of a child under the age of 16,” Mr Dick said in a statement.
He said the grounds of the appeal are that the sentence fails to reflect the gravity of the offence, that it fails to act as a sufficient deterrent, and that the sentencing judge gave too much weight to factors of mitigation.
“I will not be making any further comment as the matter is now before the courts,” Mr Dick said.
The court will set the date for the appeal.
Teacher sentenced to jail for rape of students
By Sam Burgess
Updated 5 hours 28 minutes ago
A southern Queensland primary school teacher who raped and molested 13 of his students has been sentenced to at least eight years in jail.
Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty to 33 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12, 10 counts of rape and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a student.
The incidents occurred while he was the child protection officer at a Toowoomba school from January 2007 to November 2008.
In the Toowoomba District Court today, Judge Sarah Bradley sentenced him to 10 years in jail.
He must serve at least 80 per cent of that time.
Queensland Opposition Deputy Leader Lawrence Springborg has called on Attorney-General Cameron Dick to appeal against the sentence.
He says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and clearly out of step with community expectations.
Mr Springborg says Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim and the Attorney-General must appeal.
Teacher’s rape sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’
By Chris O’Brien and Sam Burgess
Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago
The Queensland Opposition has called on the Attorney-General to appeal the sentence for a Toowoomba teacher who raped and molested 13 students.
Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail for 44 sex offences.
Byrnes must serve at least eight years, but with time already served he could be eligible for parole in just over six.
Opposition Justice spokesman Lawrence Springborg says the sentence is manifestly inadequate and Byrnes will serve less than a year for each victim.
“This sentence is clearly out of step with community expectations and the Attorney-General must appeal,” he said.
“I think we had the prosecutor arguing that there should be a starting point of about 18 years and no less than 14 years.
“Certainly if you look at this sentence a lot of Queenslanders would justifiably be shaking their head.
“What we need is some real serious reform of sentencing laws.”
The court heard Byrnes, who was also the school’s child protection officer, committed the offences after asking the female victims to come to the front of the class to sit on his lap.
He also molested the girls during lunch breaks.
The court heard Byrnes was quizzed by the school’s principal about inappropriate contact with pupils but denied the allegations and continued to commit acts, including digital rape, against the girls.
Toowoomba Catholic Bishop William Morris says he hopes the sentence will start to provide some closure for the victims and their families.
“Until the sentencing has happened, even though he pleaded guilty, and then they had to wait, and it’s been deferred and so on, I think this is one step in the process of hopefully getting normality back into people’s lives,” he said.
“[It’s] a step along the way of the healing of the victims and their families.”
Bishop to meet with families
Jim Campbell | 13th August 2010
THE families of two young victims of the horrific sexual abuse scandal at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school have supported the family of another victim who say they have been forced out of town.
The Chronicle ran a front page story in yesterday’s edition telling the family’s heart-breaking story.
The father of the young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher, Gerard Vincent Byrnes, explained the anguish his family had been put through and the lack of support they had been shown by the school.
A parent of another victim contacted The Chronicle yesterday to show support for the devastated family. “We understand your devastation and hope that you gain some strength from knowing there are people who are willing to stand side by side with you through the most challenging of times,” they wrote.
“The families involved have shown incredible courage and resilience in spite of ignorance and ‘blind faith’ being exhibited in a very public way by certain sections of the community.
“As a parent of one of the victims, we have also chosen to relocate to try and protect our family from unwanted exposure.”
Finally, they wrote: “The pain this one man has caused is unimaginable and will remain with us for the rest of our lives.”
Toowoomba Catholic Diocese leader Bishop William Morris also issued a statement in response to the family’s claims, saying the diocese had “maintained a constant flow of communication with the school community and has offered counselling and other pastoral support” over the past two years.
“Parents and the diocese place a great deal of trust in teachers to care for children under their supervision and the actions of Gerard Byrnes were a shocking betrayal of that trust,” Bishop Morris said.
“I can only begin to imagine the suffering which has been experienced by the victims and their families, including the one referred to in the Toowoomba Chronicle (yesterday).
“Although I of course would have preferred to have directly communicated with the victims and their families sooner, the diocese was unable to do so until April this year, due to not wanting to interfere in any way with the police investigation and subsequent criminal court proceedings.
“Gerard Byrnes’ guilty plea in the Toowoomba District Court in April meant the diocese was for the first time able to directly communicate with the victim’s parents, which I did so via a letter to each parent.
“I believed a letter to the victims offering a face-to-face meeting was a more respectful way of making contact, rather than an unannounced phone call.
“. . . I offered a face-to-face meeting and I indicated I would very much like this to occur so that I could apologise personally.”
Bishop Morris said that invitation remained open and he would particularly encourage the family who spoke out in The Chronicle to contact him.
He said he wrote to the families who had not yet pursued legal claims, inviting them to participate in the mediation process that will follow Bishop Morris’ admission of liability in July.
He also said the diocese had comprehensive procedures for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse and that at the beginning of 2010, it appointed a full-time Diocesan Student Protection Officer, who is working with Toowoomba Catholic Education personnel to “heighten their vigilance for child protection surveillance”.
Family forced to leave city
Jim Campbell | 12th August 2010
THE family of a young girl who was repeatedly raped by her teacher at a Toowoomba primary school say they have been ostracised and forced out of the city they once loved.
The girl’s distraught father told The Chronicle his family had been so devastated by the horrific crimes against his daughter they were leaving Toowoomba to try to piece their lives back together.
Legal action is about to be launched on behalf of the family against the Catholic Church which has admitted liability for the numerous acts of sexual assault against children at the school.
Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting children, 10 counts of raping children and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.
The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September, 2008.
The father of the young girl who will now take his daughter to a new life remembers clearly the day he first learned of the horror she went through at just eight-years-old.
It was November, 2008, and it was his wife’s birthday.
The man received a phone call from a police officer and was asked to take his daughter to Toowoomba station for questioning.
“She was fully shocked by the police interview — after that she cried a lot,” the father remembered.
He said the ongoing trauma had put terrible strain on his family, his work and his relationship with his wife.
But despite what had happened, the man said he hadn’t received a single phone call from his daughter’s school, just one generalised letter offering counselling and a series of letters from the Catholic Church as legal proceedings progressed.
“To be honest, I expected a phone call from the school,” he said.
“I am angry and upset with the school and the Catholic Education (office) because they are responsible.
“That creature was the child protection officer and he did those things to all those kids.”
The family’s lawyer, Roger Singh, a partner at Shine Lawyers, said they deserved to be compensated for the horror they had been put through.
“The aim is to bring the church to account and that we will do,” he said.
Law firm Slater and Gordon is also pursuing legal action on behalf of five families of children who were assaulted.
The principal of the school at the time and two of his superiors were sacked in December last year as a result of the sex abuse scandal.
Byrnes is due to be sentenced on October 4.
Pedophile Byrnes faces sentencing
Peter Hardwick | 24th July 2010
PEDOPHILE schoolteacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes will be sentenced in Toowoomba District Court on October 4.
Byrnes, 61, pleaded guilty on April 14 to 10 counts of raping girls under 12, 33 counts of molesting girls under 12 and one of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.
The offences were committed against 13 different girls, all students of his at a Toowoomba Catholic primary school, between January, 2007, and September, 2008.
However, Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence when a medical report surfaced claiming Byrnes might have the onset of dementia which could affect the penalty imposed.
Judge Richards ordered that a neurologist’s report be compiled and put before the court.
The delay caused even more angst for the families of the victims, many of whom had attended court that day in the hope that Byrnes’ final sentencing might give them some closure and the healing process commenced.
During a mention of the matter before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Byrnes’ solicitor Nathan Bouchier told Judge Richards that all reports had been received and the matter could now be set down for sentence.
However, Mr Bouchier said counsel briefed in the matter, Mr Brad Farr, was unavailable until the October sittings of the District Court in Toowoomba and asked that sentence be adjourned to those sittings.
Crown prosecutor Shontelle Kenny asked that the sentence date be set as early as possible out of respect for the victims’ families.
Accepting that Mr Farr should be present to represent Byrnes, Judge Richards adjourned sentence to Monday, October 4.
Delays frustrate victims’ families:Sentencing of paedophile adjourned again
Peter Hardwick. The Chronicle. Toowoomba, Qld.:Jun 5, 2010. p. 5
THERE was further frustration for the families of the child victims of Gerard Vincent Byrnes yesterday with the pedophile school teacher’s sentence adjourned again in Toowoomba District Court. Byrnes, 61, has pleaded guilty to 33 counts of sexually molesting girls under
12 years of age, 10 counts of raping girls under 12, and one count of maintaining a sexual relationship with a girl under 12.
The offences were committed against 13 different girls in classes taught by the former Catholic primary school teacher between January, 2007, and September,2008.
Byrnes was the school’s designated child-protection officer at the time.
He was due to be sentenced in April, but that hearing was adjourned after his legal team produced a psychiatric report suggesting Byrnes might have the onset of dementia.
Judge Debra Richards adjourned sentence until June 18 so a neurologist could examine all the medical material and report back to the court.
However, during a call-over of matters before Toowoomba District Court yesterday, Judge Richards was told the neurologist’s report might not be available by June 18.Judge Richards therefore delisted the sentence and adjourned proceedings for mention back in the same court on June 25 when a new date for sentence was expected to be set.Byrnes was remanded in custody.
Teacher Gerard Byrnes admits 44 counts of child sex abuse
- From: The Australian
- April 15, 2010 3:22AM
- Teacher admits 44 sex abuse charges
- More victims expected to come forward
- Parents demand church hold inquiry
POLICE have warned the Catholic Church to expect more cases of child sex abuse to emerge from six schools that employed a veteran teacher who yesterday pleaded guilty to abusing 13 schoolgirls.
Former Christian brother Gerard Vincent Byrnes, 61, admitted to 44 sex abuse charges concerning students at a Toowoomba primary school, where he also served as the child protection officer.
Among them were 10 counts of raping a child under 12.
In court documents, Queensland police said they expected more victims to come forward now that Byrnes, who taught at six other Catholic schools in Sydney and Queensland, had been publicly identified.
“It is unknown how many other complainant children there are in the community as the defendant has had a long, 39-year teaching career,” police investigators said in an affidavit.
“Police expect that once this matter is before the court and the defendant is later recognised through the media, that further, more historical complainants will present with allegations of abuse of a similar nature as those of the current complainant children.”
Parents of some of the Toowoomba victims – all girls – yesterday demanded an open inquiry by the church into the past behaviour of the father of eight.
“It is what we have wanted all along, for the church to be open and honest about this person and his history as a teacher and principal,” one mother told The Australian.
“There are a lot of questions about his past. The church already failed to act when the first victim came to them, and more children were abused.”
Toowoomba bishop William Morris, who last year sacked the primary school’s principal and two senior Catholic Education officials for failing to act on a complaint by one of the first victims, said he would now inform his counterparts in the three other dioceses where Byrnes had taught, “to ensure they are fully informed in relation to this matter”.
Byrnes taught at Sydney’s St Pius X secondary school between 1970 and 1976, before moving to the Gold Coast, where he taught at Aquinas Secondary School.
He was then made deputy principal at Our Lady College, Longreach, before becoming headmaster in 1992 at St Joseph’s Primary School, Tara, and in 1994 being appointed headmaster at St Mary’s Primary School in Charleville.
In 1997, he went back to teaching at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Toowoomba before moving in 2001 to the school, which cannot be named, where he committed the offences.
A psychiatric assessment, conducted soon after Byrnes’s arrest in November 2008, described the once-popular teacher as having no “reaction of distress or of personal concern” about the allegations against him.
Byrnes’s sentencing for the sex offences was yesterday adjourned for a neurological assessment amid conflicting psychologists’ reports. One claimed he showed onset of dementia.
Last year, the principal of the Toowoomba school became the first person in Australia, and among only a handful worldwide, to be charged under laws mandating the reporting to police of any suspicions of sexual abuse involving a child.
Police launched the investigation into the school’s handling of the case after a series of reports by The Australian revealed the principal had failed to act on complaints in September 2007 from parents of a nine-year-old child about her abuse.
At the time there were other complaints from staff about the teacher’s behaviour, including his growing notoriety for enticing children to sit on his lap with the offer of lollies.
The principal later admitted it was then that he “reasonably suspected” the teacher had sexually abused at least one child and that he failed to tell police.
Read more on Gerard Byrne’s crimes at The Australian.