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Aubrey's story

Aubrey apologised to the Commission if any of the dates and times he mentioned were a bit out.

‘I haven’t really thought about dates and situations’, he said. ‘I only thought about what happened.’ And he wanted to get what happened off his chest.

Aubrey lived a privileged life at his childhood home in Sydney and if his dad didn’t provide much emotional support for Aubrey, at least he was a good physical provider for the family.

In Aubrey’s first year at his Catholic high school, he started to get extra attention from one of the Brothers. Brother Purcell, the Year Master, ‘sat me on his lap one day and he started … touchin’ me and getting an erection. I didn’t notice the erection until probably the second or third time, until I realised what was going on’.

‘I just thought I was getting special attention because … I was a football player and they used to feed me biscuits and things like that. I didn’t really think much of it at the time … it wasn’t until I probably had my first sexual experience with a girl later that year that I realised what had happened.’

Aubrey didn’t talk to anyone about what Purcell was doing and as far as he knows, no one else knew about it.

Later that year Aubrey started getting into trouble. He was charged by police with car stealing offences and was expelled from school. It was only his father’s promise to take Aubrey out of harm’s way that saved him from being placed in juvenile detention.

His father bustled Aubrey out of Sydney and into a boarding school down south, where he hoped Aubrey would get educated and stick to the straight and narrow. But even though Aubrey learned a lot about how to look after himself, his temptation to get into mischief was strong.

He quickly became known to the school principal, Father Swinton. Swinton started to lecture Aubrey about his bad behaviour.

‘He got me in the room, gave me a stern talking to, and then told me that, being the captain of the football team he had to take pictures of me for my weight and height and everything. So he got me to strip naked.’

Swinton got the naked Aubrey to pose in positions that were ‘not appropriate in this day and age’.

Then Swinton’s abuse escalated.

After Swinton’s second lecture to Aubrey, he caned him and Aubrey started to cry. ‘Swinton said, “Pull down your pants and let me see where I hit you”. So I pulled my pants down, then he started rubbing my buttocks, then I ended up in his lap and he started fondling me’.

‘It’s better this way than me ringing your parents and you getting a suspension’, Swinton warned him, ‘because I know your parents won’t be happy with that’.

Aubrey isn’t sure how old Father Swinton was but reckons he was in his late 50s. ‘I remember gettin’ that old man smell. I know that much.’

Aubrey’s memory of the third time Swinton sexually abused him is foggy. ‘I just remember waking up with my head next to a window in his office … and I had my pants down. And I remember being told to pull my pants up and go back to class, go back to where we were boarding’.

Aubrey decided he’d had enough. He jumped onto one of the old ‘red rattler’ trains, went back to his home in Sydney and told his dad he wasn’t going back. His father said if that was the case, then Aubrey had to start an apprenticeship. Aubrey agreed, but was made to go back to school in the meantime.

Swinton gave Aubrey ‘random’ hugs but otherwise left him alone. Aubrey left school in Year 10 and began learning a trade.

His late teens and early 20s were all about having a good time – night clubs, drugs, parties, beaches and more drugs. He tried heroin and became addicted. ‘I really liked the way that it made me feel and forget about things.’

Aubrey believes that all the crimes he’s committed stem from his drug addiction. And that his drug addiction stems from being sexually abused. ‘I always put what happened to me in the background with whatever drugs I could get.’

Aubrey’s history of child sexual abuse was eventually uncovered by a psychiatrist who was helping build Aubrey’s case during his most recent trial. It was the first time his family heard about it.

Aubrey is now on medication for bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder.

He’s never reported Swinton to the police and although he thinks he should be held to account, Aubrey also just wants to forget about it. He’s focusing on leaving jail, finding a good drug counsellor and never going back. He’s had enough.

He thinks he’s over the selfishness as well. ‘Being a drug addict … you’re like a vampire. You suck everything out of everyone and I just don’t want to do it no more.’

When the Commissioner asked Aubrey if he’d considered reporting Father Swinton to the Church, Aubrey said, ‘Due to what happened to me, I just don’t believe in the Church, mate. I’m really dead set against it … Mate, I just can’t go there … I just can’t find faith in it.’

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