Defective summary prevents sentencing on sex abuse counts
17th September 2008
A judge has blamed a "defective" prosecution summary for his inability to deliver a sentence for a man who has admitted sexually abusing 12 children during the 1970s and 1980s.
County Court judge Duncan Allen was yesterday expected to sentence 66-year-old John Maria Beyer, a grandfather and former insurance salesman, on 31 counts.
The charges included unlawful and indecent assault of a male person, gross indecency, indecent assault of a female, indecent assault, sexual penetration of a child between 10 and 16 and attempted buggery.
Beyer pleaded guilty last week to the offences, which occurred between 1973 and 1985 and involved one girl and 11 boys, five of whom were wards of the state living in the Salvation Army's Bayswater Boys' Home and the Tally-Ho Boys' Home in Burwood.
But Judge Allen said there were discrepancies in the extent and frequency of the offences detailed in the victims' statements and the prosecution's summary.
He told the courtroom, packed with victims and their supporters, that if he were to deliver a sentence based on the evidence given to him, it would most likely be reviewed by the Court of Appeal.
"I wouldn't be doing a favour to anyone to proceed with the sentence today because the material given to me is inadequate," he said.
In their summary, prosecutors alleged Beyer abused the children at a number of locations, including at his homes in Melbourne's outer east, in his car, while on holiday with his family at Portarlington and at a drive-in theatre.
Among the allegations are that he fondled and masturbated his victims and at one point performed oral sex on a boy in front of other children. It is also alleged that he attempted anal sex with one of the boys.
Beyer was a volunteer at homes for disadvantaged boys and would take children for weekends away. He was also a basketball coach at a local club where others among his victims played.
Judge Allen described Beyer's alleged offending as "gross and foul".
"I'm not minimising the conduct that was alleged," he said. "All I'm saying is that I need to sentence on actual factual information or else the whole process lacks integrity and will be overturned on appeal." The matter was adjourned until next week.