Shaun spent his childhood in the 1970s being ‘dumped with my family’ in Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria. His mother was ‘a high-class prostitute’ and there were a lot of things in his childhood ‘just not a right thing for a child to be around or see’.
He went to 24 different schools as a child and his Grade 3 report card read, ‘Shaun’s a human time bomb, waiting to explode’. No one ever asked him why he was misbehaving or tried to address his issues.
When he was four or five, he was placed into care in a group home in Western Australia for about four weeks. The only thing he remembers about his time in the home is being raped by a group of people. He is unsure whether they were adults or teenage boys. ‘When you’re a young kid you just think everyone’s older than you … If they’re bigger than you they’re an adult.’
After the assault, Shaun remembers ‘crying and sitting behind this corrugated asbestos fence … that’s more of what I remember than anything else … I had a pretty messed up childhood, so …’ He didn’t tell anyone what had happened and ‘the only thing anybody really noticed is I used to start hitting my head against the wall after that for a while’.
Shaun told the Commissioner, ‘I’ve spent the whole lifetime abusing drugs and stuff like that, trying to get rid of demons, and this is only one time that something happened, so you know, I don’t even worry about it’. All he really remembers about the assault is that there were three or four people in the room.
When he was about 11 or 12 he and a friend accidentally wandered into an area of town ‘where all the faggots hang out … pick-ups and stuff’. The boys were pulled into a van and sexually assaulted. Shaun’s friend ‘ended up killing himself later about what happened … didn’t deal with it too well. I went the drug path and spent a life in jail over it’.
He said ‘there was a lot of lashing out. A lot of aggression. A lot of smashing stuff … All through my teens I took everything and drunk everything … tried killing myself that many times … just always managed to wake up … [in hospital] … with tubes hanging out of me’. No one ever asked him why he started abusing drugs or alcohol.
Shaun only started talking about the abuse ‘after I started doing a bit more jail. I just realised that it happens to a lot more people than, you know ... It’s pretty dark … I still don’t really talk about it now … Yeah, it happened. I accept that it happened. I accepted the reasons why I did things when I was younger, and what motivated me. It took a while to understand. But it’s over with and just, you know, move on’.
Shaun believes that sentences for those who sexually abuse children should be more severe. ‘They get too much leniency. I mean, they’ve destroyed my life and now I’m spending the rest of my life in jail for murder and it all stems back to something that happened as a child … They get five years for stuff like that and pfft … you know. So that’s why … I just don’t think they get harsh enough penalties.’
Shaun said he came to the Royal Commission because, ‘my whole thing of this wasn’t to persecute the past. It was to try and go forward on the future for other people’.