When he was 17, in the early 1970s, Martyn left the family farm in South Australia to work at a factory in a small town nearby. His cousin worked there already, and pulled strings to secure Martyn an apprenticeship.
‘I’m sure that he helped me, because I wasn’t the brightest kid on the block, get into being a boilermaker‘, Martyn said.
The apprentices at the factory were supervised by Michael Dimbleton, who was also a manager in the administration area. Sometime after Martyn began his apprenticeship, Dimbleton chose Martyn to work with him in the office doing paperwork and running errands.
‘I could never work out what I was doing there’, Martyn said.
Looking back, though, he understands why Dimbleton chose him. He was very young for his age, he said – ‘I’d just come off the farm, you know, not wise to the world at all. I’m sure that was the sort of person he was after. And no family in Whyalla.’
Some of Martyn’s memories from that time are hazy. But he has a very clear recollection of what happened when Dimbleton sexually assaulted him. He had driven one afternoon to collect Dimbleton from a local club. On the way back, Dimbleton made him park the car in a back street.
‘This is what transpired’, Martyn said.
‘He decides that I’ve got to pull down my pants, so I’ve done that. Then he’s grabbed hold of my penis and is going hell for leather. He wants me to do the same to him. I didn’t really know what to do so I did that, so he’s got a hold of me and I’ve got hold of him, and then just before he comes he grabs hold of my head and puts it over his penis and comes in my mouth. That was it. That was the scenario. I wanted to get out of the car and run away but I didn’t know really what to do … I was lost and running from that moment onwards. I had no idea what I was going to do or how I was going to go about it.’
Afterwards, there was no one Martyn could tell. He is adamant that talking to the other apprentices was never an option.
‘I’m a bloke. How can you talk about something like that with another guy, and expect him to understand? He’s going to think I’m bloody queer or something, you know …
‘I thought if I go back there and any of these guys find out, I’m dead … I was from the farm. I had hay seeds just growing out of me, and these guys were bad.’
Martyn told no one. And though he can’t exactly recall what happened next, he believes that after some time Dimbleton tried to assault him again. This time Martyn stood up to him. He told Dimbleton that unless he found him a job somewhere else, he’d report him to police. Soon afterwards, Martyn’s apprenticeship was transferred to a factory in Adelaide.
After Martyn moved, there was no further contact between them. ‘I think he was just glad that I left’, Martyn said. Martyn continued to keep the abuse a secret. He didn’t feel able to visit his parents, let alone speak to them about Dimbleton. A succession of unhappy events, including the suicide of his brother, meant he didn’t want to add their troubles.
‘All I wanted to do was go and hide under a rock’, he said.
Martyn left the factory the day he finished the apprenticeship. ‘I never went back to it … I’ve never picked up a welder since.’
He began working in pubs and eventually became an assistant manager and then a manager. Throughout these years he was in emotional trouble. He couldn’t manage relationships. Work was his only solace – ‘I’ve always been a worker’, he said. Eventually, though, a change occurred.
‘I was lost and lonely for long enough’, he said.
‘I don’t think there was any one moment where I decided I’m not going to think about it anymore, or I’m not going to worry about it anymore. … But at some stage that would have happened. And I thought well, I’ll get on with it.’
The first time Martyn disclosed his abuse was to his mother, in the 2010s.
‘That’s the only one who knows about it. I couldn’t tell my kids, I haven’t told anybody, basically. So for 40 years I’ve just sort of held it tight and never let it go.’
The disclosure was prompted by evidence from Rolf Harris’s victims, which made him think about what Dimbleton had done to him. ‘I said if they put Rolf Harris in jail, I’m going to go and put myself through the Royal Commission, and that’s exactly how it all transpired.’
Martyn has children and grandchildren and is now in relationship with a partner who understands him, having had some similar experiences herself. He’s a regular smoker of cannabis. ‘That’s a good way to hide under a rock’, he said.
In some ways Martyn now sees Dimbledon’s assault as water under the bridge. But he is clear about two things he does want: first, to know whether there were other victims; and second, an apology.
‘I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to do anything to him, really’, he said. ‘I’d be just as happy with an apology. I’m not really after his blood – I mean it’s been that long now, what’s the point, really. An apology would be great, if he’s still alive. That’d be something I’d look forward to.’