Royal Commission Findings Slam St Ann’s Special School, Police and Church over Notorious Bus Driver Paedophile Brian Perkins

Perth Now
June 4, 2015

Brian Perkins hides his face as he arrives at a Bundaberg court in 2002.

THE child-abuse royal commission has released damning findings into the response of the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide and SA Police over the handing of horrific child sexual abuse at St Ann’s Special School.

The findings, released today, found the school, police and church had failed to protect the school’s intellectually disabled children, many of whom were abused by notorious bus driver paedophile Brian Perkins.

Perkins was employed as a bus driver at the school in 1986 driving children with intellectual disabilities to and from school daily while unsupervised.

The Royal Commission report found:

THE school did not comply with its own policy requiring that volunteers be supervised by a registered teacher, which created further opportunities for Perkins to sexually abuse children in his care.

THE Catholic Education Office did not have a policy on respite care by employees or volunteers.

AFTER complaints were made about Perkins in 1991, police investigated and pornographic photographs of students who attended the school were found at his home. However it was not until 2003 that he was convicted of five sexual offences against three students at St Ann’s and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

THE school principal did not inform the board of management, the board of governors or the director of the Catholic Education Office of the sexual allegations regarding Perkins, despite requirements to do so.

CHURCH parties failed to take appropriate action in ensuring the matters were fully reported and investigated and that families concerned were informed and children protected.

POLICE failed to issue a warrant for the arrest of Perkins in 1991, despite having information about his prior convictions, the nature of sexual allegations against him and the risk he posed of further sexual offences against children. In 1998, it was discovered Perkins was living in Queensland, but police declined to apply to extradite him on the basis of inaccurate information, including the seriousness of the charges.

POLICE did not inform the broader school community of the sexual allegations against Perkins despite being aware that other former students with intellectual disabilities and limited verbal capacity may have made contact with Perkins.

THE Catholic Church did not follow processes set out in Towards Healing, its principles and procedures in responding to complaints of abuse against Catholic Church personnel.

THE payment of ‘gifts’ to former students of St Ann’s did not provide an adequate response to some families.

In 1986, the school employed Perkins as a bus driver, driving children with intellectual disabilities to and from school daily while unsupervised.

He also undertook volunteer work and provided respite care for students during his employment.

He went on to sexually abuse children with intellectual disabilities.

St Ann’s Special School was established in 1975 and catered for 50 to 60 students with intellectual disabilities aged between five and 20 years.

Perkins was charged in 1993, but fled Adelaide after skipping bail in January, 1994.

Although police located him in Queensland in 1998, he was not arrested and extradited back to Adelaide until 2002.

He pleaded guilty to five sex offences against three St Ann’s students and was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2003.

He died in prison in 2009.

In response to the findings, an SA Police spokesman said police accepted its 1991 response was “not adequate in contrast to today’s standards”.

“If such a crime was reported today, the police response would be very different,” the spokesman said.

“In the twenty-five years which have passed since, SAPOL has made numerous policy, process and procedural improvements, in line with national and international best practice.

“Training across SAPOL has supported these changes.

“SAPOL also has a Special Crimes Investigation Branch incorporating a dedicated victim management section specifically trained in the forensic interviewing of children that have been the subject of sexual abuse or have special needs.”

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Adelaide said it welcomed the Royal Commission’s final report into St Ann’s Special School and “would be looking closely at the findings as part of its commitment to provide the highest standard of child protection practices and procedures for all children in its care”.








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