Facing Trial by the Media

By Terry Jones
Western Advocate
September 16, 2008

TWO former Vincentian brothers and a priest at St Stanislaus' College facing a total of 125 sex charges have already been tried by police and the media, a barrister for two of the men said yesterday.

Sydney barrister Greg Walsh is representing former college chaplain Brian Joseph Spillane, 65, who is facing 93 charges, and former bursar John Francis Gaven, 66, who is facing 28 charges.

A third man, former college president Peter William Dwyer, 65, faces four charges.

Spillane was the only one of the three accused to appear at Bathurst Court House yesterday when Mr Walsh expressed his concerns about the handling of the case by police and the media, saying they "might not get a fair defence".

Gaven and Dwyer appeared in other NSW courts.

Outside the Bathurst court, Mr Walsh described the case against the three Vincentians as a "witch hunt".

"Zealous police and zealous media have prejudiced a fair trial," Mr Walsh said.

"I'm gravely concerned their opportunity to get a fair trial has been grossly affected.

"All three are entitled to a fair trial in a fair-minded community. Evidence in this case has been contaminated."

Mr Walsh referred to "mass hysteria and moral panic" over the charges, adding that "these men are innocent".

"The allegations are bizarre, they've arisen in very suspicious circumstances," he said.

When Mr Walsh was questioned about Director of Public Prosecutions solicitor Beth Walker earlier telling Bathurst Local Court that "100 statements from as many as 40 witnesses" could be brought forward, the lawyer said the defence had not seen any statements.

During the court hearing yesterday morning, Mr Walsh was complimented by magistrate Thomas Hodgson for his written submissions on the original 33 charges levelled against Spillane.

Mr Hodgson ordered the remainder of the DPP brief to be served by Monday, October 27 for the case to return to the court when Spillane, Gaven and Dwyer would be expected to attend on Monday, November 10.

The magistrate said he'd determine how many witnesses would be called after Mr Walsh raised issues about the filing of information before the court, saying he had complied "but not one piece of paper" had been filed by the DPP.


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