‘I had a … really good family … but I started playing up around 10 and that, and I think it was pretty much where I grew up, to be honest. Just everyone I knew was a crook, really … And then I started getting into trouble and all that, and using drugs and got locked up and it just all went [downhill].’
In the late 1970s, when Dean was about eight or nine, he and his friends rode their bikes to a local police station in Sydney, and asked if they could look around.
‘They chucked us in the cells for about eight hours … I was nearly crying in the cells and they were laughing at us, saying, “You’re never going home” … After that, I just hated the police. That’s where I think everything went wrong with me, to be honest, from that one little episode. Because there was no reason … I never wanted for anything as a kid.’
By the time he was 15, Dean was still playing up, and ended up in a juvenile detention centre. ‘In the shower once, I was taking too long and [the officer] come in and smashed me in the face and grabbed me penis and threw me into the wall, shouted shit at me and just let me down. I ended up just getting up and going to me room.’
Dean ran away from the detention centre and was sent back. He ran away again and was sent to another one. He kept trying to run away from there, too.
‘They tried to ridicule you into submission … I just couldn’t deal with it … The second time I run away from there I got thrown into … the pound … and they bashed me in there and [an officer] stuck his finger in me arse and said, “That’s what it’ll be like when you go to jail. Do you like that?” and then they just belted me till I was unconscious and left me there.’
Dean didn’t report the sexual abuse. One reason for that was ‘fear’ and the other was ‘people calling you “poofter” and things like that. That was the worst thing you could have been called as a kid … Back then, if you were a fag you were like Satan, you know.’
He said that in those days, ‘you [couldn’t] talk to anyone about that shit … I was like a zombie. My whole purpose there was to run away. I just wanted to get out of there … Surprisingly, when I first come to jail up here I was freaking out and nothing occurred … Then I didn’t mind being in jail’.
Dean told the Commissioner that during his time in juvenile detention, ‘I think that’s the lowest I’ve ever been in me life … the lowest I’ve ever felt in me whole life’.
Dean has spent most of his adulthood in jail, for serious offences. ‘You’ve got to take a look at nearly everything I’ve [done] … Something’s got to have sent me down that road. I’m not [smart enough] to work it out ... I’ve tried. But something’s not right … Something’s happened back then that’s stuck with me forever.’
When Dean got out of jail in the early 2010s, after more than two decades inside, he found he had ‘no life skills. I thought I was sweet and like, I don’t even really want to get out again to be honest. Like, I couldn’t be fucked robbing people, but when it comes to [it], that’s all I can do …’
Dean told the Commissioner that during the time he was out of jail, ‘I couldn’t get a job anywhere and I … don’t want to do crime anymore … I think I’ve matured enough not to want to do those things but when you’re out there with nothing and you’ve got no skills, then what can you do? … I’m not an idiot, but that was never going to work. I tried me hardest, but …’
Dean has found that there are a lot of men in jail who, like him, were abused as children. ‘That’s just a pattern I see … and it’s nothing I was really looking for until all this happened and you think, “Oh, old mate’s calling the Commission” … which is funny because we can talk about it now … We couldn’t talk about it a long time ago.’
He doesn’t know ‘why we all went down the same sort of similar road, but something’s got to have … Somebody’s got to be able to find an answer somehow’.
The Royal Commission is something that Dean ‘care[s] about … very much, because I’ve seen inmates hang ’emselves over shit like this. I don’t know why they kill themselves … but there’s a reason. Maybe, luckily I’m just a bit stronger than one or two of them … And that’s my main motivation … I might get some sort of [compensation payment] but I don’t really care. It’s more about finding [a solution], so it doesn’t happen to anyone else’.