But Sydney District Court Judge Kate Traill rejected O’Sullivan’s appeal for a reduced sentence after he argued the bread assault was evidence he faced a particularly harsh future in custody, and added eight years to his jail time.
Darcy John O’Sullivan, 80, known as Brother Dominic to his victims in the 1970s and 1980s at Marist Brothers College, Hamilton and St Marys High School, Casino, “shows a total lack of understanding of the magnitude of his predatory offending”, Judge Traill said.
O’Sullivan showed no empathy for his victims, had no insight into his offending and showed no contrition or remorse for his crimes, she said. This was despite his guilty pleas in 2016 to crimes against 12 former students, guilty pleas in February to crimes against another 15 students, and after extraordinary evidence on Thursday in which he denied sexually abusing any students.
“I absolutely deny to this court, to her honour, that I have ever indulged in that sort of behaviour in all of my life,” said O’Sullivan, after describing his fondling of boys’ genitals in the classroom, corridors and on a playground as “showing a paternal interest”, or behaving “in a kind of semi-affectionate manner to a number of my students”.
Judge Traill told O’Sullivan’s solicitor, Greg Walsh: “I think your client just reversed his plea.”
O’Sullivan agreed he signed a statement of agreed facts that detailed his criminal acts against the 15 boys, but said “In my heart of hearts I don’t believe all of that happened.”
He had “seven wonderful years” at Hamilton, he said.
But his victims remembered school with fear and horror, Judge Traill said.
O’Sullivan entered guilty pleas to 14 offences between 1971 and 1983 but his victims told the court of multiple offences by him. A number went on to have drug and alcohol problems in later life, had attempted suicide and struggled to maintain relationships and jobs.
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Survivor MD had O’Sullivan’s “unwanted hands on his private parts” on multiple occasions in the classroom, but when he told his devout Catholic father he was beaten with a torch. He ran away from home after his father threatened him with a piece of timber.
“He was terrified of being molested at school and when he returned home his father was violent towards him,” Judge Traill said.
O’Sullivan “instigated a chain of events” that left MD ostracised from his family, suicidal and not trusting anyone, she said.
Victim PM “remained silent for 40 years about the abuse because he felt at the time his parents would have sided with the Brothers”. Victim MM was sexually abused by O’Sullivan for nearly two years from the age of 12 and spent four years in jail because of a heroin addiction.
“The Marist Brothers ruined my life,” he said in a victim impact statement tendered to the court.
In a session with forensic psychiatrist Dr Olav Nielssen, O’Sullivan said he “really can’t remember any of the names” of his former students.
He denied being a child sex offender or having a sexual interest in boys or men, and told the court on Thursday he was a heterosexual.
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“I know and understand my own sexuality. I know when I’ve been physically attracted to women. I know when I’ve been in love with women. That doesn’t make me someone as you describe,” he told barrister Alex Morris for the Crown.
O’Sullivan was sentenced to a maximum six years’ jail in September, 2016 for crimes against 12 former students, with a non-parole period of three years. Judge Traill sentenced him to a further eight years’ jail, with a minimum sentence of six years, for crimes against a further 15 students, and under new NSW laws allowing sentences to reflect current standards.
Judge Traill noted O’Sullivan’s advanced age but said he was in reasonable health.
“The offender would have become increasingly confident these offences would never have come to light,” she said.
O’Sullivan earlier told the court he was “stressed and fearful” after he was hit with a loaf of bread in jail last week, and then pushed over. Judge Traill described the incident as “relatively minor”, after O’Sullivan agreed he had responded angrily and told his assailant “I’d had enough.”