Alcohol, drugs, anger and aggression have been constant companions for Derry for almost as long as his long rap sheet.
Raised in a dysfunctional Aboriginal family amid extensive family violence that involved alcohol, Derry well remembers being ‘bashed’ by his mother when he told her one of her friends had interfered with him when he was ‘little’ in the 1980s.
In trouble with the law at a young age, Derry was sent to a South Australian boys’ home in the 1990s and was also ordered by a court to complete a community service order.
When Father Bernard Keel, who was involved in the community service program, tried to pull down Derry’s pants and fondle his genitals in his office, when Derry was aged between 10 and 12, Derry didn’t consider telling his mother.
And when the priest ‘propositioned’ him as they moved some furniture and also tried to molest him again on other occasions, Derry only mentioned it to his cousin. His cousin ‘didn’t go into much detail’ but inferred it was highly likely the priest may have interfered with other children.
So Derry ‘just stopped going’ to his community service appointments.
‘I just stopped going. I risked my freedom. I would rather go to a boys’ home than to go back there [where the priest was].’
Now in his 30s, and about to finish his latest jail sentence, Derry has never disclosed his child sexual abuse to an adult before. He only took part in his private session after being assured by commission officers that it was ‘private and confidential’.
While not brought up as Catholic or religious in any way, he admits: ‘I don’t like church people anymore.’
He is ‘not good with relationship issues, not good with relationships’ and has ‘several kids to several women’. He has found it impossible, so far, to have a stable relationship.
‘I really hate old people. I don’t trust them and I don’t trust them around my kids,’ he told the Commissioner.
Having suffered from depression, and taken prescribed Prozac, his preferred blocking mechanism was drink and drugs.
‘I found that the [illicit] drugs and drinking sort of pushed everything away.’
In addition Derry’s had ‘a lot of anger issues, bad anger issues’ including ‘bad conflict with child sex offenders’ while serving time for numerous offences mainly related to drugs and violence. ‘Obviously I wanted to like do stuff to ’em,’ he admitted.
Derry is soon to be released from prison. He feels like he would like to ‘talk to some other people’, including counsellors, about the secret he has carried for 25 years and may also consider applying for some compensation.
He agreed it was important to stop child sexual abuse and that, particularly in prison, everyone knew who the offenders were.
But the many prisoners who were victims of child sexual abuse – like himself, who become intensely angry about those issues or, for instance, really homophobic due to something in their own background – remain invisible, he agreed.