Sex abuse royal commission: Prosecutor defends using question of 12-year-old’s breasts in legal advice in Scott Volkers case

Updated 10 hours 41 minutes ago

A senior NSW prosecutor has defended using the question of whether 12-year-old girls have breasts to back up her finding that there was little chance former Olympic swimming coach Scott Volkers would be convicted of sex abuse charges.

In 2002 Volkers was charged with a range of sexual abuse offences relating to three young female swimmers – Julie Gilbert, Kylie Rogers and Simone Boyce – but those charges were later dropped.

A royal commission into child sex abuse is currently examining how sports bodies and top prosecutors handled the allegations.

Queensland Police reopened the case against Mr Volkers in December 2002.

In December 2003, Queensland‘s Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) sought the advice of the NSW DPP as to whether the new brief of evidence supporting the allegations had reasonable prospects of conviction.

The NSW DPP, Nicholas Cowdery QC, tasked deputy senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen SC with preparing the advice.

In her advice, Ms Cunneen questioned whether the charges against Mr Volkers had a reasonable chance of success because it was legitimate to ask – following Ms Gilbert’s assertions that Mr Volkers had massaged her breasts – whether 12-year-old swimmers even had breasts.

At the royal commission on Thursday, Ms Cunneen said that was still a valid question for a jury to consider.

“If a defence counsel could raise a doubt that there was any palpable breast tissue, through the clothing of course, then we’d be in trouble trying to say that she had breasts,” she said.

On Tuesday, Ms Gilbert told the ABC’s 7.30 program Ms Cunneen’s questions regarding her allegations were deeply hurtful.

Advice based on whether jury would accept evidence: Cunneen

The counsel assisting the commission, Gail Furness SC, also asked Ms Cunneen whether it was fair to say she does not resile from her original advice to the Queensland DPP regarding any conviction being unlikely.

“I take it from the terms of [your] statement Ms Cunneen that you don’t resile in any way from the advice you gave in 2004 in relation to Mr Volkers?” she said.

Ms Cunneen answered that she stands by the advice.

Scott Volkers

“Bearing in mind it was 2004 and that maybe [there are] some considerations in relation to juries being more amenable in 2014,” she said.

“We were probably only two-thirds of the way through the evolution, in terms of public knowledge and acceptance of child sexual assault cases then.

“But no, I don’t resile from the advice at all.”

She told the commission the credibility of the three alleged abuse victims was not in question, rather she was questioning whether a jury would accept their evidence.

“Sexual assaults are harder to prove than murders and robberies because it so often comes down to one word against another,” she said.

“The judge would tell [the jury] ‘probably is not enough, the gravest suspicion is not enough, you have to be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that that happened’.”

Volkers was exempt from holding blue card: inquiry

Earlier, the commission heard Mr Volkers was exempt from holding a blue card in Queensland, despite the fact his application was rejected.

He applied for the blue card – which is needed for working with children – along with about 60 other employees from the Queensland Academy of Sport in mid-2008.

The royal commission heard Mr Volkers’ application was the only one to be issued with a negative notice and his application for a blue card was rejected.

The director of Queensland’s blue card system, Michelle Miller, told the inquiry the recommendation to reject Mr Volkers’ application was handed down before it was decided he was exempt from the requirement to hold a blue card because he was a government employee.

On Wednesday, Swimming Queensland chief executive Kevin Hasemann agreed to review Mr Volkers’ status as a life member of the organisation and a Hall of Famer.

Mr Hasemann admitted to the commission he did not investigate the allegations against Mr Volkers before employing him.

The hearing continues.

Luke Margaritis – World travelling teacher and convicted paedophile

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

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

Luke Margaritis - World traveling teacher & convicted paedophile

Luke Margaritis – World traveling teacher & convicted paedophile

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

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

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

 Both boys were students at St Edmund’s College.

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Updated 2 minutes ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinal Pell said victims should settle the matters outside court.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

I understood insufficiently just how wounded he was.

Cardinal George Pell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hearing continues.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sceptical Vatican gave accused ‘benefit of the doubt’

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

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

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

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

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

Cardinal George Pell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Abuse survivors listen closely to Pell’s evidence

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hearing continues.

Rolf Harris-FOUND GUILTY-Sentenced to 5yrs 9 months


There is a lot going on with this case. I was almost laughing seeing him helped out of a limo looking all crippled and old taking one step every 3 seconds to walk into court. For Christ sake, he was running a round a stage a few months ago happy as Larry despite his age. This is setting up on his side to get no jail time. I drafted some posts about identifying it was him who was the old Australian entertainer being investigated because the Aussie media was too gutless to say out loud what everyone knew. Harris like so many in the 70’s and 80’s thought they were SO famous they were untouchable. Sadly the girls in their vicinity were NOT.

“Your reputation lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours, but you have no-one to blame but yourself,” Justice Sweeney told the convicted paedophile.

UPDATE JUNE 4th 2014

Rolf Harris sentencing: a transcript of Justice Nigel Sweeney’s remarks

Rolf Harris has been sentenced to five years and nine months for assaults on four girls.

THE judge said it plainly and powerfully.

These are the damning words Justice Nigel Sweeney used when he handed down Rolf Harris’s jail sentence, listing the star’s crimes and stating he had not shown any remorse.

Read them and remind yourself why he was jailed. Some of the sentences may be confronting revealing much more detail than what was reported

“Rolf Harris, you are 84 years old. You have no previous criminal convictions or cautions recorded against you. You are no longer in the best of health. For well over 50 years you have been a popular entertainer and television personality of international standing – with a speciality in children’s entertainment. You are also an artist of renown. You have been the recipient of a number of honours and awards over the years. You have done many good and charitable works and numerous people have attested to your positive good character.

But the verdicts of the jury show that in the period from 1969 to 1986 you were also a sex offender – committing 12 offences of indecent assault on 4 victims who were variously aged between 8 and 19 at the time. There were a number of aggravating features. You took advantage of the trust placed in you, because of your celebrity status, to commit the offences against three of your victims ‘A’ (Count 1), ‘B’ (Count 2) and Tonya Lee (Counts 10-12). All your offences in relation to ‘C’ (Counts 3-9) were committed in breach of the trust that her parents had placed in you, and two of them took place in her own home. In every case the age gap between you and your victim was a very considerable one.

HOW IT HAPPENED: Reports from the sentencing of Rolf Harris

WAS THE SENTENCE TOO SOFT? Complaints prompt review

You clearly got a thrill from committing the offences whilstwhiles were present or nearby. Whilst others did not realise what you were doing, their presence added to the ordeal of your victims. It is clear from the evidence that what you did has had a significant adverse effect on each victim, and particularly so in relation to ‘C’ who suffered severe psychological injury in consequence. None of the victims had the confidence to complain at the time. Each, including Tonya Lee, and especially ‘C’, showed considerable courage in eventually coming forward and in giving evidence.

You have shown no remorse for your crimes at all. Your reputation now lies in ruins, you have been stripped of your honours but you have no one to blame but yourself.

On Count 1 you indecently assaulted ‘A’ in 1969 (when she was aged 8 and you were aged 39). You did so when you made an appearance at the Leigh Park Community Centre in Havant, and she approached you for your autograph. Others were present. Taking advantage of your celebrity status, you twice put your hand up her skirt between her legs and touched her vagina over her clothing. In her Victim Impact Statement ‘A’ states, which I am sure is true, that you took her childhood innocence – for which she blamed herself and became an angry child and teenager, unable to express herself and unable to trust men. She continued “I have carried what Rolf Harris did to me for most of my life, it took away my childhood, it affected every aspect of my life from the point he assaulted me. Something that he did to me for fun that caused me physical and mental pain for his own pleasure and then probably forgot about as quickly as he did it, has had a catastrophic effect on me…..”

On Count 2 I have no doubt that you indecently assaulted ‘B’ in July 1978 (when she was aged 16. and you were aged 48). You did so on the day that you took part in Star Games on Jesus Green in Cambridge. You were clowning around and took advantage of the fact that she was somewhat awestrawe-struckn others were present. You groped her bottom, squeezing her left buttock a number of times. In her Victim Impact Statement, which I am also sure is true, she says amongst other things “…Rolf Harris took advantage of me and made me feel ashamed. That an adult man could do what he did to me made me feel so powerless. He treated me like a toy that he played with for his own pleasure with absolutely no regard for what he was inflicting and then getting on with his life as if nothing had happened….”.

‘C’ and her family began living across the road from you and your family in Sydenham in the mid 1960s. She and your daughter Bindi became the very best of friends. In late 1978 when ‘C’ was aged 13 and you were aged 48 you were allowed by ‘C’s parents to take her on holiday with your wife and Bindi to Canada, Hawaii and Australia. Her parents trusted you to look after their daughter and continued to do so after the end of the holiday. I have no doubt that you fancied ‘C’ – even at that young age. I make clear that I am not sentencing you in relation to what happened on that holiday, but I am sure, in the light of the jury’s verdicts, that ‘C’ gave truthful evidence as to what occurred, and that it was the indecent assaults that you carried out on that holiday that emboldened you to commit offences against her in this country thereafter.

On Count 3 you indecently assaulted ‘C’ in the latter part of 1980 by which time she was aged 15 and you were aged 50. You had moved to Bray, and were visiting the ‘Cs’ with your wife. You committed the offence in breach of trust, and it was further aggravated by being committed in ‘C’’s own home. You left your wife and ‘C’’s parents downstairs and you went up to ‘C’s bedroom on the top floor of the house. You spat on the fingers of one hand, put that hand down her jeans and knickers, and digitally penetrated her vagina. The episode lasted for about a minute until she managed to get away.

On Count 4 you indecently assaulted ‘C’ after Xmas 1980 when she was still aged 15 and you were aged 50. Again you were visiting the ‘C’s with your wife. Again you committed the offence in breach of trust and it was further aggravated by being committed in ‘C’’s own home. You left your wife and ‘C’’s parents downstairs whilstwhileent up to the TV room on the first floor where ‘C’ was. You spat on the fingers of one hand, put that hand down her dungarees and knickers and digitally penetrated her vagina. You continued for up to a minute until she managed to get away.

Counts 5 & 6 arose from a single incident in the period between the autumn of 1980 and Easter 1981 when ‘C’ was aged 15 and you were aged 50. ‘C’ was visiting Bindi at Bray and was permitted by her parents to stay – sleeping in one of two single beds in Bindi’s room. On this occasion after Bindi had got up, and whilstwhilend/or your wife were in the house, and again in breach of trust, you went into the bedroom where ‘C’ was still in bed. You took her pants down, spat on the fingers of one of your hands, and digitally penetrated her vagina (Count 5), then you took off your glasses bent down to her vagina and started licking it (Count 6) – continuing until she closed her legs and pushed you away.

Counts 7 & 8 arose from another single incident in the same period between the autumn of 1980 and Easter 1981- and thus when ‘C’ was still aged 15 and you were aged 50. Again ‘C’ was visiting Bindi at Bray and was sleeping in one of the two single beds in Bindi’s room. On this occasion, whilstwhile was still asleep in her bed and ‘C’ was in the other bed you entered the room, again in breach of trust, pulled ‘C’s pants down to her ankles, spat on the fingers of one hand and digitally penetrated her vagina (Count 7), then you licked her vagina again keeping an eye on Bindi (who was still asleep) as you did so (Count 8) – continuing until ‘C’ closed her legs and pushed you away.

On Count 9 you indecently assaulted ‘C’ in 1984 when she was aged 19 andyou were aged 54. On this occasion she and her mother were visiting your wife at Bray. ‘C’ was using the indoor swimming pool when you appeared in your swimming trunks and got in. Your wife and Mrs ‘C’ (who trusted you) withdrew to another part of the house whereupon you touched ‘C’s breasts and then put one of your hands down her bikini bottom and digitally penetrated her vagina.

Whilst not sentencing you in relation to what you did to ‘C’ in the decade that followed that offence, I am sure that offences against her continued until 1994. Indeed the point is made on your behalf that you have not committed any further offences since then. In her Victim Impact Statement, which I am sure is true, ‘C’ says, among other things, “…The attacks that happened have made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me. I have panic attacks and suffer from anxiety. The effects of the abuse have been with me for many years. I started drinking at the age of 14 to 15 years old. This was to block out the effects of what he was doing to me. This had an effect on my relationship with my parents and people close to me. The slightest thing would upset me, I would get so angry, my reaction would be so disproportionate and over the top. As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family. However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised.

I have never had a meaningful relationship. I have also never been able to hold down a job. This was down to the need to block out what he had done to me through drink. Rolf Harris had a hold over me that made me a quivering wreck….He made me feel like a sexual object. He used and abused me to such an extent that it made me feel worthless….. I suffered abuse at the hands of a person who thought he could get away with it. He made me feel that would not be believed and as a result I suffered in silence. This has had a detrimental effect on my life and health outcome….”.I have no doubt, in view of the evidence given at trial by ‘C’, and by the doctors and counsellors who treated her, that it was your crimes against her that resulted in her becoming an alcoholic for many years with all that that entailed, and that thus (as I have already touched on) you caused her severe psychological harm

On Count 10 you indecently assaulted Tonya Lee on 31 May 1986 – when she was aged 15 and you were aged 56. She was one of the Shopfront Theatre Group from Sydney, Australia who were on a tour of the UK at that time. You knew the lady who was in charge of the Group, and at her invitation had attended the Group’s last performance on the tour which was in South London. Thereafter you accompanied them to a public house called the Queen’s Arms. It was there, in the presence of others, that you committed the offence. Taking advantage of you celebrity status you got Tonya to sit on your knee, put your hand on her thigh under her skirt and moved it up to her vagina over her tights and knickers and fondled her there until she managed to make an excuse and fled to the Ladies toilet.

You followed her to the vicinity of the toilet and waited outside.

Counts 11 & 12 arose from a single incident after she came out. Others, although not present, were nearby. You got her in a forceful bear hug, put one hand down her top and into her bra and played with one of her breasts for about 30 seconds, fondling and squeezing it (Count 11).

Then, really quickly, you moved the same hand under her skirt, down her tights and knickers and quickly digitally penetrated her vagina (Count 12). You then stopped and walked away.

In an email from Australia Tonya Lee writes that what you did to her was a turning point in her life that she has never recovered from. She says, among other things, that “…What Rolf Harris took from me was my self belief and more so the ability to feel safe. I have never felt safe since. I live in a constant state of anxiety”.., She goes on to describe the difficulties that she and her children have faced since and continues “…What Mr Harris took from me was my very essence. I believe that it was for Mr Harris a forgettable moment but it was something for me that I have never moved on from and will never forget…” I proceed upon the basis, as both sides have invited me to, that (consistent with her evidence at trial) your offences were not the sole cause of Tonya Lee’s problems.

It was in the mid 1990s, and after it had stopped, that ‘C’ then still an alcoholic, finally told her family what you had done to her. In 1997 she confronted you and you sent that letter to her father in the hope of avoiding or minimising the consequences. You succeeded at that stage, but only because she was in no fit state to face making an official complaint.However, following her brave recovery from alcoholism, and after extensive counselling and support from her family, it was ‘C’’s eventual complaint in the autumn of 2012 which began the series of events that led to your prosecution and conviction. I apply the approach to sentencing historic sexual offences set out in Annex B of the current Sentencing Council Definitive Guideline, and have also considered the guidance given in the judgment of the Court of Appeal in Attorney General’s Reference (No.38 of 2013)(R v Stuart Hall) [2014] 1 Cr.App.R. (S.) 61

The maximum sentence on Count 1 is one of 5 years’ imprisonment, on each of Counts 2-9 it is one of 2 year’s imprisonment, and on each of Counts 10-12 it is one of 10 years’ imprisonment.

With the exception of Counts 10 & 11 the equivalent offences today attract significantly higher maximum sentences. For example on Count 1 the equivalent offence today is sexual assault of a child which carries a maximum of 14 years’ imprisonment and would be likely to involve a starting point of around one year’s imprisonment. On Counts 3,4,5,7,9&12 the equivalent offence today is assault by penetration which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and would be likely, to involve a starting point (given the severity of the psychological damage to ‘C’) of around 8 years’ imprisonment on Counts 3,4,5,7, & 9 and a starting point of around 4 years’ imprisonment on Count 12 On your behalf I am asked to take into account a number of matters in mitigation, including the following:

(1) With the exception of ‘C’ the offences were brief and opportunistic.

(2) The fact that you have no previous convictions and have led an upright life since 1994 – albeit it is accepted that that must be tempered by the reality, underlined in the Attorney General’s Reference (above), that you got away with your offending for years.

(3) The fact that you have a good side, that there are many people who know you who speak well of you, and that over many years you have dedicated yourself to a number of charitable causes.

(4) The fact that you are not in the best of health, as attested to in the report of Dr Fertleman, and that therefore, although capable of serving a prison sentence, it will be particularly tough on you.

(5) The fact that your wife, who you help in looking after, has various health problems, as attested to in the report of Dr Mitchell-Fox.

(6) That you should be enabled to spend your twilight years with your family.

I have no doubt, despite your age and the other matters relied upon in mitigation on your behalf, that given the seriousness of the offences and particularly those in relation to ‘C’) and the extent of the aggravating features that I have identified only an immediate custodial sentence is appropriate for each. Sensibly, no argument to the contrary has been put forward on your behalf. Some of the sentences will be consecutive – in passing them I bear firmly in mind the principle of totality and have reduced a number of the sentences that I would otherwise have passed accordingly.

The sentences that I impose are as follows:

  • Count 1: 9 months’ imprisonment.
  • Count 2: 6 months’ imprisonment consecutive.
  • Count 3: 15 months’ imprisonment consecutive
  • Count 4: 15 months’ imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 5: 15 months’ imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 6: 12 months imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 7: 15 months’ imprisonment consecutive
  • Count 8: 12 months’ imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 9: 12 months’ imprisonment consecutive
  • Count 10: 9 months’ imprisonment concurrent
  • Count 11 9 months imprisonment concurrent.
  • Count 12 12 months’ imprisonment consecutive

The total sentence is therefore one of 5 years and nine months’ imprisonment.Unless released earlier, you will serve half that sentence when you will be released on licence for the remainder of the sentence. Should you breach the terms of that licence, including by the commission of further offences, you will be liable to recall.

Your convictions mean that you are automatically subject to the notification requirements of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and you will also be considered under the provisions of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.

In my view it is not appropriate for me to make any awards of compensation. The issues involved are too complex and the information before me insufficient for me to be able to properly do so.

You will however pay the costs of the prosecution in such sum as may be agreed or assessed in due course.

I order that a copy of the medical report from Dr Fertleman be provided to the Prison Service for their information.”


Rolf Harris-FOUND GUILTY-Sentenced to 5yrs 9 months

Rolf Harris jailed for more than five years for indecently assaulting young girls

Australian-born TV presenter guilty of seven assaults against daughter’s childhood friend and of groping an eight-year-old, Friday 4 July 2014 13.19 BST

Rolf Harris

Rolf Harris arrives at court. Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters

Rolf Harris has been jailed for carrying out a series of indecent assaults on young women and girls, including an eight-year-old autograph hunter and the 13-year-old friend of his daughter.

The judge, Mr Justice Sweeney, sentenced the 84-year-old entertainer to a total of five years and nine months in prison on 12 counts of indecent assault. Some of the sentences are to be served consecutively and others concurrently.

A jury at Southwark crown court on Monday unanimously found Harris guilty on the 12 charges of indecent assault, including seven against the childhood friend of his daughter, beginning when the girl was aged 13 and on holiday. The court heard that Harris continued a sexual liaison with the woman, 35 years his junior, until her late 20s.

Before a packed courtroom on Friday, Sweeney said to Harris: “You showed no remorse. You took advantage of the trust placed in you through celebrity status … You clearly got a thrill from committing offences while others were nearby. You have shown no remorse at all.

“Your reputation lies in ruins [and] you have nobody to blame but yourself.”

Rolf Harris leaving his home for sentencing by boat

Rolf Harris leaves his home for court by boat. Photograph: Sky TV

As the judge spoke, Harris and his family listened in expressionless silence.

Before sentencing, Harris listened impassively as victim impact statements were read out to the court. The former friend of his daughter, Bindi, said the abuse he inflicted had made her drink, wrecked her career and given her panic attacks.

“The attacks that happened have made me feel dirty, grubby and disgusting. The whole sordid saga has traumatised me,” the statement said. “As a young girl I had aspirations to have a career, settle down and have a family. However, as a direct result of his actions, this has never materialised. The knowledge of what he had done to me haunted me. However, his popularity with the British public made it harder for me to deal with.”

The woman said she had been convinced nobody would believe her. “My loved ones couldn’t understand why I drank so much until I told them what Rolf had done to me for so long.”

Another victim, who was assaulted by Harris when she visited England as a teenager, said the incident was a turning point in her life from which she had never recovered.

“I have never felt safe since, I live in a constant state of anxiety,” she said. “What Mr Harris took from me was my very essence, I believe that it was for Mr Harris a forgettable moment but it was something for me I will never move on from. I know the person I am today is not the person I should have been.”

A third victim, who was indecently assaulted by Harris as she sought his autograph at a community centre when she was seven or eight, said the incident had taken away her childhood. “I became an angry child, unable to express myself and unable to trust men,” she said.

Speaking of this victim, the judge told Harris he had taken away her childhood.

Sweeney also said he had no doubt Harris “fancied” the friend of his daughter, Bindi, and it was Harris’s crimes that made the victim as she was. Harris had caused her “severe psychological harm”.

The defence counsel Sonia Woodley QC said in mitigation that apart from the assaults against his daughter’s friend, Harris’s crimes were brief and “opportunistic, not predatory”. For the last 20 years he had led an “upright life”, and he had been patron of 16 charities, she said.

Since his arrest in 2012 Harris had been “a prisoner in his own home” due to the media frenzy, Woodley said. He was now 84 and “living on borrowed time”, and the prison term should reflect this.

As well as the four victims whose evidence formed the charges, the trial heard evidence from six more alleged victims as “bad character” witnesses. Seven more alleged victims did not give their evidence for legal reasons.

During and since the court case several other women have come forward to make allegations against Harris, with the police and the NSPCC charity saying they have received a number of calls.

The prosecution barrister Sasha Wass QC told the court on Friday that Harris had also been charged with four counts of viewing indecent images, which were to have been tried separately, but the Crown Prosecution Service would not pursue those charges in light of Monday’s guilty verdicts.

Harris was one of the best-loved and enduring entertainers of his era, with a TV career dating back 60 years and a reputation for his good rapport with children. He now faces the possibility of losing much of his £11m fortune after some victims contacted a law firm specialising in civil compensation claims over sexual abuse.

Since the verdict, Harris’s home town in Western Australia, Bassendean, has begun to shed its association with the entertainer, stripping him of honours and making plans to remove a plaque outside his childhood home.

The convicted paedophile travelled to the court by boat along the River Thames from his home in Bray, Berkshire, reportedly to avoid media who had gathered outside his house.

The 84-year-old, who has been told to expect jail time, was carrying a small suitcase as he entered the dock.

After hearing submission from the prosecution and defence, Justice Nigel Sweeney called a recess so that he could consider the sentence.




The sentencing hearing has now resumed.

Earlier this week Harris was found guilty of indecently assaulting four girls between 1968 and 1986.

Jurors unanimously delivered a guilty verdict on all 12 counts of indecent assault, after a trial that lasted more than six weeks.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

In victim impact statements tendered to the court today, one victim said Harris’s actions had made her feel “dirty, grubby and disgusting”.

But the defence said there was no evidence Harris had offended in recent years, saying at 84 he was “living on borrowed time” and his prime concern was for his wife’s health.

Since the trial began, and even since the verdicts were handed down, more women have come forward saying they were also assaulted by Harris. Police have confirmed they are looking into fresh allegations.

Earlier today a New Zealand MP said Harris assaulted her in the 1980s.

Maggie Barry, a former high-profile broadcaster and now member of the National Party-led government, said she was in her 20s and working in a regional radio station when Harris groped her.

“He suddenly started with the wandering hands and groping and when he put his hand on my leg, I said ‘You can stop that right now’,” she said.

“I stood up and said ‘You’re a sleazy creep’, at which point he got a bit nasty,” she said.

She said Harris was “pretty confident and arrogant” throughout the “chilling experience”.

Rolf Harris found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault against four girls by London jury

Updated 41 minutes ago

Rolf Harris has been found guilty of indecently assaulting four girls in the UK between 1968 and 1986.

The jury took eight days to deliver unanimous verdicts on all 12 charges of indecent assault in London.

The 84-year-old has been granted bail until his sentencing on Friday, but has been told to expect a custodial sentence.

Each count carries a maximum penalty of two years in jail.

Harris listened impassively – with the aid of a hearing loop – as the verdicts were read out.

Only after the final guilty verdict was read out and the jurors had left the court did Harris finally stand.

He sipped from a plastic cup and then left the dock.

He went into a small room at Southwark Crown Court with his legal team before being joined by his wife Alwen and daughter Bindi, who had broken down in tears after the verdicts and was consoled by Harris’s long-time agent Jan Kennedy.

Judge tells Harris to expect time behind bars

Justice Nigel Sweeney made it clear Harris could expect to be sent to jail later this week.

“Given the conviction on all 12 counts, it’s inevitable that the type of sentence uppermost in the court’s mind is a custodial sentence,” the judge said.

Justice Sweeney thanked the jurors for their service and said they had conducted themselves in an exemplary fashion with scrupulous attention to their duties.

Harris’s legal team have 28 days to lodge an appeal on his behalf.

Chief Inspector Michael Orchard from Scotland Yard said the case proved that no celebrity was above the law.

“Rolf Harris habitually denied any wrongdoing, forcing his victims to recount their ordeal in public,” he said.

“He committed many offences in plain sight of people as he thought his celebrity status placed him above the law.

“I want to thank the women who came forward for their bravery. I hope the guilty verdict will give them closure and help them to begin to move on with their lives.

“The case and verdict once again shows we will always listen to and investigate allegations regardless of the timeframe of those involved.”

Jenny Hopkins from the Crown Prosecution Service said the verdicts sent a strong message.

“Whenever there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, we will work with police and victims to bring strong cases which can be put before a court,” she said.

“I hope today’s verdict provides other victims with the courage and confidence to come forward, no matter who is alleged to have carried out the abuse and when.”

Talking on AM this morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he felt “gutted and dismayed” by the verdicts.

“Sexual abuse is an utterly abhorrent crime … it’s just sad and tragic that this person, who was widely admired, seems to have been a perpetrator,” he said.

“It’s very important that we do everything we humanly can do to protect vulnerable young people.”

No comment from Harris family

A spokesman for the Harris family said no-one, including the star’s lawyers, agents or friends, would be making “any public comments or be available for interview either here or in Australia”.

Rolf Harris convicted

“The Harris family has also asked that their privacy be respected at this time,” the spokesman said in a statement.

In addition to the four complainants in the trial, another six women gave supporting evidence that the artist and entertainer had abused them in Australia, New Zealand and Malta between 1969 and 1991.

Harris denied inappropriately touching any of the alleged victims and pleaded not guilty in court. “They are all making it up,” he told the jury in late May.

During the case, prosecutor Sasha Wass QC said none of Harris’s accusers knew each other but their accounts bore “striking similarities”.

She described Harris as a “sinister pervert” who used his fame to mesmerise his victims, treating “underage girls as sexual objects” to be “groped and mauled”.

Harris was arrested in March last year on suspicion of sexual offences as part of Operation Yewtree, which was set up following revelations about the late BBC presenter Jimmy Savile.

Main accuser was daughter Bindi’s childhood friend

The main accuser was a woman, now 49, who met Harris as a childhood friend of his daughter Bindi.

Harris admitted he had a 10-year-affair with the accuser but said it did not start until she was 18 and the relationship was consensual.

However, she told the court the entertainer began indecently assaulting her at age 13, when she joined the Harris family on an overseas holiday in 1978.

The woman told the court she was taking a shower at their Hawaii hotel and was wrapped only in a towel when Harris gave her “one of his big hugs and tickles”.

She said the performer then put his fingers into her crotch area.

The woman said she felt “numb” and disgusted after the abuse happened.

When she was 15, she said Harris sexually assaulted her in her bedroom, before laughing and joking with her parents downstairs.

The woman said she was too scared and intimidated by Harris’s fame to tell anyone.

After years of sexual abuse the victim was “emotionally dead”, the prosecutor said.

“She was targeted, groomed and dehumanised over a period of 16 years,” Ms Wass said.

In court, Harris admitted he admired the bikini worn by the teenager on the Hawaii trip but denied indecently assaulting her.

His daughter Bindi told the court she was with her friend “every single moment of every single day” on the holiday and had not noticed any change in her behaviour.

However, during the trial Bindi wept as she described the moment she later discovered her father’s sexual relationship with her friend.

The prosecutor said key evidence was a letter Rolf Harris wrote to the alleged victim’s father in 1997.

It was effectively a confession of child abuse, the prosecutor alleged, and was a calculated attempt to avoid the police being informed.

The defence said the letter was consistent with Harris’s claim of a 10-year affair.

“I fondly imagined that everything that had taken place had progressed from a feeling of love and friendship,” Rolf Harris wrote in the letter.

“There was no rape, no physical forcing, brutality or beating that took place.”

Harris told the court the woman had contacted him in 1994 and had demanded 25,000 pounds ($45,000).

When he refused to pay, she threatened that her brother would go to newspapers, the court was told.

The alleged victim took her allegations to UK police in November 2012.

Harris accused of groping other children

A second witness told the court she was 13 or 14 when Rolf Harris groped her buttocks at a celebrity event in Cambridge.

Harris initially denied being in the city at that time. However, he later admitted he had been there after TV footage was dramatically uncovered mid-trial of him taking part in a 1978 episode of Star Games in Cambridge.

A third witness said she was only seven or eight years old when the entertainer assaulted her in Portsmouth after she had asked him for an autograph.

She said the entertainer put his hand down her back and between her legs. He then did it a second time, she told the jury.

Harris’s defence counsel suggested the entertainer had never been to the community centre in question and must have confused him with another man.

Another witness against Harris was an Australian woman who said the entertainer assaulted her at the home of family friends in Darwin when she was 11 or 12 years old in the late 1960s.

The woman said she froze as Harris approached her, put his arms around her and gave her a tongue kiss.

A New Zealand woman told the court Harris had a “dark and evil side” and indecently assaulted her when she was dancing with him when she was 17 years old.

The witness said she told her mother soon afterwards about what Harris did.

“I sat down and told her what a disgusting, vile, repulsive man that he was, and how he had totally taken away trust,” she said.

The court also heard evidence from an Australian make-up artist who says Harris groped her at Channel 7 in the mid-1980s when she was 24.

She said the entertainer was known as “the octopus” because of his roaming hands.

Former Australian actor Tony Porter told the court he witnessed Harris groping a different make-up artist in the mid-1980s.

Another Australian witness Tonya Lee asserted that Harris had indecently assaulted her twice in an English pub during a theatre trip to the UK in 1986.

The defence argued Harris was “a natural hugger and that left him open to false accusations”.

Defence admits Harris ‘far from perfect’

Defence barrister Simon Ray said the entertainer was “far from perfect” given he had admitted having two extramarital affairs, but insisted that did not make him guilty of the indecent assault charges.

He asserted the delay of up to 45 years between the alleged assaults and when they were reported to police caused issues for Harris in trying to rebut the claims.

“It’s much easier to make allegations like this than it is to rebut them,” Mr Ray said, adding that if Harris failed to remember something he was accused of deliberate lies and if he did recall details they were dismissed.

Mr Ray also criticised many of the six women who gave supporting evidence that Harris harassed them in Australia, New Zealand and Malta.

He pointed out that some had kept photographs of themselves with the star.

In one case a mother, who claimed Harris assaulted her daughter and then herself, subsequently put a cartoon the artist had drawn on her daughter’s bedroom door.

What mother would do that if she had just been sexually abused, Mr Ray asked the jury.

The lawyer said Harris was of good character with no criminal convictions but that the prosecution had set about destroying his reputation “with vigour and enthusiasm”.

He said the trial had occurred with the whole world watching, so Harris had already been punished for his infidelity whether he was found guilty or innocent.

“He has been punished for his infidelity by, effectively, public humiliation,” Mr Ray said.

The letter he wrote should disgust anyone who reads it as he tries to cover his own ass.

Click below read full size letter

Harris confessed in letter to victim's father, court told

Harris confessed in letter to victim’s father, court told

update 10/05/14

Rolf Harris trial: Prosecution alleges entertainer had ‘dark side’ that preyed on girls

The 84-year-old is facing 12 counts of indecently assaulting four girls between the late 1960s and mid 1980s, the youngest of whom was aged seven or eight at the time of the alleged offence.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Prosecutor Sasha Wass QC told the opening day of the trial that Harris was an immensely talented man with a glittering career, who exploited his fame to commit the assaults.

She said he used his fame to access girls and young women, confident they would not tell anyone what he had done because of his status.

Rolf Harris arrives at court with his daughter Bindi and wife Alwen Hughes.

Rolf Harris arrives at court with his daughter Bindi and wife Alwen Hughes.

Ms Wass said Harris had a “dark side” that was sexually attracted to girls, and that he groomed one of his victims “like a pet”.

The jury of six men and six women was also told Harris slobbered around the neck of another girl and ran his hands down a third victim inappropriately in separate incidents.

Ms Wass said Harris was a Jekyll and Hyde figure, whose “dark side” was not known to colleagues and companions for decades.

He developed a consistent approach in gaining the trust of his young victims before abusing them, the jury heard.

“You will see a pattern during the case of Mr Harris approaching girls in a purely friendly way and then once he is in close physical contact with them, taking advantage of the situation in order to indecently assault them,” she said.

Harris confessed in letter to victim’s father, court told

The prosecution has revealed that the main complainant – seven of the 12 counts deal with her allegations – was a childhood friend of Harris’s daughter, Bindi.

The woman says she was first abused as a 13-year-old when she was on a holiday with the Harris family in Hawaii and Australia.

The prosecution says that by the time she was an adult Harris had total control over her and the abuse continued until she was in her late 20s.

The jury was told Harris does not deny that he had a sexual relationship with the woman, but says it began when she was 18.

The court heard Harris wrote a letter of confession to the woman’s father in which he admitted that he had a sexual relationship with the woman.

“I fondly imagined that everything that had taken place had progressed from a feeling of love and friendship,” the jury heard Harris wrote in the letter.

“There was no rape, no physical forcing, brutality or beating that took place.”

His status meant the woman did not talk about the incident until 1996. But in 1994, the court heard, Harris says he was contacted by the woman who demanded 25,000 pounds ($45,000).

When he refused, she threatened that her brother would go to newspapers over what Harris assumed were details of the affair, the court was told.

Harris alleged to have abused girls in several countries

Ms Wass said Harris abused his victims in numerous locations such as Hawaii and Australia, but many incidents took place before a law change in Britain meant offences allegedly committed abroad could be tried in the UK.

A number of other witnesses set to be called by the prosecution will allege they were also abused by Harris while he was on visits to Australia and New Zealand.

They include a woman who says Harris assaulted her while she was working as a make-up artist at Channel Seven.

The jury heard that she would say Harris was known as “The Octopus” because of his reputation for groping young women, a comment the jury was later told to disregard.

The prosecution says without knowing each other, the complainants and witnesses have related similar accounts of the type of abuse and the way in which it happened – often in a brazen and sudden manner.

Ms Wass told the jury they should not dismiss any of the claims because they related to historic incidents.

She said the consequences of sexual abuse could be life-changing and current, and she said when the jury hears them describe what Harris did to them “you may think those victims deserve to have a voice”.

The court was told that two of the girls became alcoholics because of the abuse.

The first prosecution witness in what is expected to be a six-week trial is due to take the stand on Monday.

The white-bearded, bespectacled entertainer was accompanied at the Southwark Crown Court in London by Bindi and his wife, Alwen Hughes.

Harris is the biggest name to go on trial since British police launched a major investigation after revelations that the late BBC TV host Jimmy Savile was a prolific child sex abuser, leading to the arrest of more than a dozen ageing celebrities.

Harris is known by millions in Britain and Australia for pop chart hits such as Two Little Boys and Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport.

A keen artist, Harris painted Queen Elizabeth’s portrait in 2005, and was honoured by her for his services to entertainment and charity and performed at her 2012 Diamond Jubilee concert.

To be successful in these cases is to have independent corroborating evidence, and I reckon Rolf Harris knows he is gone (oh yeah I did have an affair with that girl but ONLY after she was 18 etc) Bad news for him is the girls he molested back then are now mums themselves and taking a stance. The suppression of evidence needs to end, it is 2014 not 1814.

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

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

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

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



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

Principal didn’t report paedophile teacher

February 18, 2014 7:38PM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hearing is set to continue on Wednesday.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principal told but no action taken

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The hearing is expected to last for five days.

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

By Emily Bourke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Instead all the support was thrown behind the principal.

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

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

‘Procedures not followed to the letter’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Advocacy group initiates investigation of Family Court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Principal barred for paedophile inaction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He resumed teaching fulltime last year.

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

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

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

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

“Principals must be deterred from similar failings.”

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

No appeal for pedophile teacher

Peter Hardwick | 12th March 2011

  • ·

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10-year sentence sticks for teacher who molested schoolgirls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Supreme Court of Queensland – Court of Appeal

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

Last Updated: 14 March 2011


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

BYRNES, Gerard Vincent




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

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

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

R v D [2003] QCA 88, distinguished

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

R v Ellis (1986) 6 NSWLR 603, cited

R v HAV [2009] QCA 259, followed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The circumstances of the offending

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

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

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

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

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

The Sentencing Remarks

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

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

The Appellant’s Contentions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

[1] [2003] QCA 88.

[2] [2009] QCA 252.

[3] [2009] QCA 249.

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

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

[6] [2009] QCA 259.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Court of Appeal reserved its judgment.

Court to hear rape sentence too lenient

17th February 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The court will set the date for the appeal.

Teacher sentenced to jail for rape of students

By Sam Burgess

Updated 5 hours 28 minutes ago

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

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

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

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

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

Appeal demanded

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

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

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

Teacher’s rape sentence ‘manifestly inadequate’

By Chris O’Brien and Sam Burgess

Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He also molested the girls during lunch breaks.

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

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

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

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

Bishop to meet with families

Jim Campbell | 13th August 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Family forced to leave city

Jim Campbell | 12th August 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Byrnes is due to be sentenced on October 4.

Pedophile Byrnes faces sentencing

Peter Hardwick | 24th July 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Delays frustrate victims’ families:Sentencing of paedophile adjourned again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Teacher Gerard Byrnes admits 44 counts of child sex abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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