Darin's story

Darin grew up in a beachside suburb in Sydney in the 1960s and 1970s. He described his pre-teen years as pleasant and uneventful: he got along well with his parents and his brother, enjoyed school and worked hard at swimming training each morning.

Every now and then his family would visit an old woman in a retirement home. Darin assumed she was an aunt or something and didn’t think there was anything unusual going on. Then, when he was in his early teens, the old woman died. At this point Darin’s parents decided that it was time to tell him the truth and in so doing, changed his life completely.

The old woman, it turned out, was Darin’s biological grandmother. He told the Commissioner, ‘My mum and dad decided to tell me that I was adopted. Which wasn’t a very good idea, but they did. I mean, I don’t blame them for doing that but it didn’t help me much because then it just made things worse.’

Hurt by this revelation, Darin started to rebel. ‘I thought, “You’re not my parents, you can’t tell me what to do. I can go to a party, go to the youth club and things like that”.’

He began to skip school, spending his days hanging out with friends at the beach. From time to time a man named Steve Carton would approach Darin and the other boys, offering them money and inviting them to private parties in his home. Darin started attending these parties regularly.

‘You’d go there and there were other kids, a little bit older than us, like 16, 17. They were watching porn. He had alcohol and barbiturates, red and uppers and downers and stuff like that. There were a lot of sexual acts and dick-enlarging machines, movies on and people doing stuff in bedrooms.’

Thinking that all this behaviour was normal and fun, Darin and his mates joined in. Darin didn’t think to report Steve Carton to police and he speculates that they wouldn’t have believed him anyway. At the time Carton was a well-respected member of the community who volunteered at various clubs and charities.

In fact, Carton was so well-respected that he managed to convince the welfare department to appoint him as Darin’s guardian. Darin’s parents agreed and at 14 years of age, Darin moved in to Carton’s house. Soon Carton started sexually abusing Darin. Sometimes he would take Darin to the houses of other paedophiles and leave him there for weeks at a time.

After a while Darin’s perspective on the abuse began to shift and one day he confronted Carton. ‘Basically I said I’d had enough and I don’t want you touching me and stuff. He hit me with a pan, because he was cooking. He hit me that hard with the pan it cut me eye open. He had to take me to hospital to get stitches and that. I think I was about 15 and a half.’

The abuse continued until Darin was 17. It ended because of a stolen stereo. Darin went to a pawn shop one day to sell the thing and made the mistake of giving the shop guy his address. A few weeks later he woke to find two detectives staring down at him. The cops searched the place and found Carton’s stash of child pornography which included photos of Darin.

‘They charged me with buggery, from a photo I think it was. And they charged him with a heap of stuff.’

Darin was sent to a boys’ home for a while then lived on the street for a few weeks. One day the police caught up with him, apologised for the arrest, told him they’d dropped the charges against him and asked him to testify against Carton. Darin agreed and ended up giving evidence. Carton was convicted and sent to jail.

After that Darin became a heroin addict and a criminal and eventually found his own way into the prison system. ‘In and out of jail till I was 36. I mean, I met a girl and had kids in between all that. Some remnants of normal life here and there. But just recidivism. Habitual, recidivist criminal. A junkie basically.’

At 36 he went out one night to commit an armed robbery with two colleagues. The job went bad and a man was killed. Darin is now serving a sentence for murder. Looking back on his life, he is keenly aware that the strategies he used to cope with the abuse were misguided and destructive.

‘I used to deal with it by not caring. I used drugs in jail until I got out. Always had heroin habits and didn’t give a shit about the system or the people in it or the screws or education or welfare or anything … That was my whole life until was 38, 39 and I thought, “I can’t keep doing this. I think once you get to a certain age you grow smarter. You realise basically. “What’s it all for?”’

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