FORMER Newcastle Anglican dean Graeme Lawrence has abandoned an all-grounds appeal against his convictions and sentence for historical child sexual abuse and will serve out the remainder of his maximum eight-year jail term.
Lawrence, who was the second-most senior Anglican in the Newcastle diocese, was found guilty of aggravated sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault on a 15-year-old boy after a judge-alone trial in Newcastle District Court in June and July last year.
Less than two weeks into his sentence the Newcastle Herald revealed Lawrence had lodged a notice of intention to appeal the conviction and sentence to the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA).
The six-month notice of intention to appeal period was due to expire on Tuesday.
The appeal itself had not been lodged with the CCA and Lawrence's solicitor John Anthony told the Newcastle Herald that he had been instructed not to proceed with the appeal.
Lawrence's victim, Ben Giggins, welcomed Lawrence's decision.
"It's a relief, there was a six month limbo period where we didn't know," he said on Sunday.
"The fact that he is not going to appeal vindicates the justice system and helps provide closure. It's done and I can move on."
The decision to abandon the all-grounds appeal means Lawrence will not be eligible for parole until April, 2024.
Lawrence's two-week judge-alone trial heard that Mr Giggins was helping a youth band to pack up equipment in the Cathedral on a Saturday or Sunday evening in 1991 when Lawrence approached him and invited him back to the deanery on the premise that other young people had gathered there for a party that evening.
After arriving, Lawrence took him into a room with framed photos of naked boys on the walls.
Lawrence asked Mr Giggins if he liked the photos, to which he replied "no".
Lawrence pulled Mr Giggins' shirt over his head and removed his pants.
He fondled the complainant's genitals and asked if he liked it but he said "no".
Lawrence then forced Mr Giggins to the ground and sexually assaulted him.
After the assault, Lawrence warned Mr Giggins: "Don't bother telling anyone. You're just a boy and I am the Dean. No one will believe you."
During his detailed judgement, Judge Tim Gartelmann, SC, said Mr Giggins' evidence had a "high degree of credibility generally" and his account of the events comprised detail with the "clear ring of truth".
Whereas Judge Gartelmann found Lawrence's evidence "lacked credibility generally" and his denial of the events left no reasonable doubt that they occurred.
Mr Giggins has said the Royal Commission into institutional abuse gave him the confidence to come forward.
Lawrence ruled over Christ Church Cathedral from 1984 to 2008 and was defrocked by the Anglican Church in 2012 in the wake of child sexual abuse allegations levelled at him.
Mr Giggins said numerous strangers had reached out to him following the trial not only to offer support but also to share their own stories.
"I had a gentleman who went to the Grammar School who lives in America now. He sent me a message on Facebook and we have chatted a little bit. He's got his own story and he is working through that. He is still not confident enough to come forward. He's knows I'm here and we keep in regular contact," he said.
"I have had random people just message me, I wouldn't have a clue who they are, thanking me for my bravery and stuff like that."
Despite the enormous trauma involved in the decision to report Lawrence's abuse, Mr Giggins said it was the "best thing he had ever done".
"It was just a massive dark hole in my life that I hadn't faced. The fact that the Royal Commission was there to back it up was the main reason [I was able to do it].
"I said to someone the other day about the Pell case, without the Royal Commission I don't know if Witness J would have been able to come forward.
"To walk into a police station and say to a cop someone has assaulted me, that's a massive deal considering the power that these people had. That power has been taken away now.
With more people speaking about it, and more people knowing about it, the better we can protect our kids and bring these people to justice.
Mr Giggins said he did not harbour ill-will towards the church.
"I have always said the church is not a problem," he said.
He and his wife Jane attended a service at the cathedral late last year to confront his "demon".
"I didn't want the next time I have to come here for a church service, someone's wedding, a baptism or funeral to be having a meltdown. We decided to come and face it head on," he said.
"I haven't driven down the street of the deanery, I haven't been to the back of the church. I can't do it. The only time I've done that was in the video walk through with the police."