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Child Centre Owner Labelled A Charmer

"I HAVE a great home life. I'm just looking after my kids." These were the innocent words of Melbourne childcare centre operator Scott Barrett Thompson as he discussed a failing business venture in 2001.
They have taken on a sinister undertone this week after his arrest for possessing child pornography. Married with two children, Mr Thompson was described yesterday as a charmer.
The 41-year-old, who is a member of the Kew branch of the Liberal Party, has a chequered business past.
He turned to child care after trying his hand at being a dot.com entrepreneur and was once involved with a failed company that left debts of $25 million.
A former colleague told the Herald Sun Mr Thompson wanted to be everyone's friend. He was also described as sleazy.
Born in Adelaide, Mr Thompson grew up in Sydney and it is understood he still has family there. He met both his first wife and his second wife, Maureen, while working at Coles Myer as a buyer.
He and Maureen moved to Melbourne soon after they were married.
In the early 1990s, Mr Thompson forged a chain of computer shops known as Mac's Place.
At one stage he owned four of the Apple computer sales outlets - two in Melbourne and one each in Sydney and Brisbane. His business became one of the biggest Apple dealerships in Australia. Mr Thompson also ran an internet provider service.
In 2000, he joined with five other Apple retailers in a merger to form Buzzle, a consortium they planned to have listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The company failed, owing Apple $25 million, but Mr Thompson got out before the fall. In an ABC documentary in 2001 he described himself as one of the lucky ones. "In essence, in the wash-up of the whole experience, I'm one of the winners," he said. "I sold my business successfully. I have a great home life. I'm just looking after my kids."
Mr Thompson had been national director of retail sales at Buzzle's West Melbourne offices before selling out.
He foresaw the looming trouble for the company.
Mr Thompson bought the Lakesfield Child Care Centre in Lysterfield soon after the documentary was filmed.
His former colleague yesterday described the move as a huge jump. "It just seemed strange. He had nothing to do with children before," the colleague said.
In the documentary Mr Thompson is well dressed and is shown driving a dark Mercedes Benz through Richmond.
He and his wife own a house in Kew and have investment properties in Hawthorn and Gardenvale. Their daughter attends Methodist Ladies College, one of the state's wealthiest schools.
Administrator Ferrier Hodgson was appointed to manage Mr Thompson's business, Smooth Investments, on Thursday night after it was revealed he had been charged with possessing child porn.
Yesterday, it said his three childcare centres, in Lysterfield, Croydon and Ivanhoe, would be sold.
Ferrier Hodgson partner James Stewart said Mr Thompson would have nothing further to do with the centres.
He said creditors of Mr Thompson's company Smooth Investments were owed about $1.5 million.
It was uncertain yesterday whether he or his wife would benefit from the sale of the centres.
"There are a lot of creditors to pay before any benefit would be directed," he said.
"We believe Mr Thompson is a creditor, but we would be encouraging him to stand back and let other creditors in first."
Mr Thompson, who has said he will defend the charges against him, has been released on strict bail conditions that forbid him from going near the centres.
Department of Human Services spokesman Bram Alexander refused to say whether his bail conditions restricted contact with his own children or whether the department was investigating their welfare.
He also refused to say whether the Department had contacted Methodist Ladies College.
MLC principal Rosa Storelli said parents had not been notified, but would have an opportunity to discuss any concerns they had when the school term began on Monday.
Ms Storelli said a counsellor would be made available if necessary.
When asked about Mr Thompson yesterday, Victorian Liberal president Helen Kroger declined to say whether immediate steps would be taken to have Mr Thompson's membership revoked.
"I will most certainly consult with the administrative committee for the matter to be discussed," she said.
The curtains were drawn at the Thompsons' Kew residence yesterday. A neighbour she had known the family for a long time and liked them very much.
"I'm very surprised (about the charges against Mr Thompson) because they're lovely people," the woman said.

Herald Sun (2-10-2004)
Catherine Hockley/ Jason Frenkel/ Mandi Zonneveldt/ Jeremy Kelly

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