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No appeal for pedophile teacher

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.


www.thechronicle.com.a (12-3-2011)
Peter Hardwick
http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/03/12/judges-dismiss-appeal-against-pedophile-toowoomba/


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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.


The Courier-Mail (11-3-2011)
Mark Oberhardt
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/year-sentence-sticks-for-teacher-who-molested-schoolgirls/story-e6freon6-1226019627777


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 Attorney 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.

The Courier Mail (17-2-2011)
Mark Oberhardt
http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/former-catholic-teacher-gerard-vincent-byrnes-gets-10-years-for-abuse-of-young-schoolgirls/story-e6freoof-1226007569524


Court to hear rape sentence too lenient

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.

www.thechronicle.com.au (17-2-2011)
http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2011/02/17/court-hear-byrnes-appeal-toowoomba/



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

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.

AAP (22-10-2010)
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/breaking-news/queensland-attorney-general-to-appeal-child-rapist-gerard-vincent-byrnes-eight-year-term/story-e6freuyi-1225942286887


Teacher's rape sentence 'manifestly inadequate'

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."


www.abc.net.au (4-10-2010)
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/10/04/3029060.htm?section=justin


Family forced to leave city

Family forced to leave city 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.


www.thechronicle.com.au (12-8-2010)
Jim Campbell
http://www.thechronicle.com.au/story/2010/08/12/family-forced-leave-dity/


Teacher Gerard Byrnes admits 44 counts of child sex abuse

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.


The Australian (15-4-2010)
http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/church-warned-as-teacher-gerard-byrnes-admits-44-counts-of-child-sex-abuse/story-e6freuzr-1225853862863








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