‘I couldn’t take it anymore and I knew I wasn’t the only one he was fondling and abusing so I procured a cricket bat and followed him to an alcove like an assassin … I struck him with all my puny might in the back of the skull and heard the thunderous crack … I thought he might be dead. I then smashed him around the body for good measure inflicting as much damage as I could whilst the rage of fury was coursing through my veins. It felt so cathartic and good. Anyone who says revenge does not feel good and satisfying is a liar … I have no regret for what I did … Not only had I destroyed my tormentor but I had defended the other boys who were being abused by him … Now I would deal with every problem with violent and destructive force. It worked. After this I was never abused again. But the down side was that I was to become a killer later in life and live with so much regret for my actions as I aged and matured.’
This is how Dexter described the eventual terrible impact of years of physical and sexual abuse, in a powerful written statement he submitted to the Royal Commission.
He was born in the late 1950s in New South Wales and, due to alcoholism and violence in his family, was made a ward of the state at age four and sent to children’s homes and foster care. He has been attempting to retrieve his records as it’s difficult for him to recall exact details of how long he spent at each place, but he has vivid memories of the tough physical conditions and harsh treatment he received – along with the physical and emotional scars.
When he was about 10 he was sent to a training farm in regional New South Wales where he was befriended by Mr Parker, one of the teachers there, who took him for rides on his motorbike and gave him money.
Dexter told the Commissioner: ‘I thought he was a good bloke … He approached the superintendent to get me to clean his room on a regular basis, and he turned that into his chance to start molesting me and getting me to do things, like play with his penis and stuff.’
He said Mr Parker was a big man and physically aggressive so Dexter couldn’t get away. He abused him on multiple occasions – ‘every chance he got’.
Dexter went to the superintendent for help.
‘He said, “Leave it with me, I’ll get back to you”. So I thought, “Oh, I’m going to get some help”. Well he called me back to his office a couple of days later and he abused me and berated me and told me I was a liar and a troublemaker and he made me bend over while he belted me with a rubber hose …
‘There was an older boy there. I told him what was happening and he started targeting me himself by crawling into my bed when I was asleep and playing with me and taking my dick in his mouth and sucking it.’
Dexter was so miserable that at the age of 10 he attempted to end his life by swallowing a bottle of pills. He survived and the abuse by the older boy continued for another two years. This was the boy who Dexter eventually attacked with the cricket bat.
He never reported the abuse as there were constant threats to be sent to even worse institutions. He also said he didn’t see the police as an option and didn’t think they’d help as nobody else believed what he was saying. The superintendent took Dexter out of school and made him work milking cows and in a boiler house. He worked for up to 12 hours a day without pay.
He left the training farm at age 15 and a half, totally unprepared for the outside world and struggled to find work he could stick at. He had a case worker and a man from the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES), who were meant to be helping him. They took him away for a weekend trip and drugged him but Dexter managed to get away from them. He reported the CES worker, who was sacked, but nothing happened to the case worker.
One day he caught a lift with a friend somewhere, not knowing they were in a stolen car. He got off with a bond, but that event started his criminal record, making it even harder for him to find the work he wanted. He started to commit burglaries and by his mid-20s he was in jail. He has since clocked up about 25 years inside and is now serving a sentence for murder.
As an adult he has told very few people about the abuse as he felt ashamed and humiliated. He did disclose to his de facto wife, who was horrified and broke down. He never explored the idea of compensation because he thought he would be accused of lying. ‘Because they’d already done that to me, they shut me down when I first complained about it and I thought I’ve got no comeback. Who’s going to listen to me?’
He has spoken to psychologists and is on various medications for depression and anxiety, as well as being on a methadone program, but has not received any counselling for the trauma.
He says now he is not dealing very well with his past. ‘Because at the moment I’m in a jail and I’m surrounded by sex offenders … I’m actually having a lot of trouble with violence at the moment and I’m feeling urges that I want to hurt some of these sex offenders.’