Former Canberra school teacher convicted a second time over 1979 abuse of student


September 04, 2019 17:30:30

A former teacher from Canberra’s St Edmunds College who sexually abused a student in 1979 has been sentenced to four years in jail.

Key points:

  • Garry Marsh, 73, pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a male student in 1979
  • He was originally convicted in 2017 but won an appeal
  • A deal was later struck with the victim, and he was sentenced to two years in jail non-parole

Garry Leslie Marsh, 73, pleaded guilty to five counts of indecently assaulting a male student he coached in rugby union.

In sentencing Marsh, Justice Michael Elkaim took into consideration his poor health and his role in caring for his elderly mother.

Marsh used role as rugby coach to prey on student

The court heard Marsh purported to treat the 10-year-old victim on the sidelines of a rugby game for a groin injury.

Rather than treating him, he stuck his hands down the boy’s pants and felt his genitals.

A week later the victim visited Marsh’s home for further treatment for the injury, at which point the boy was sexually abused.

In the weeks that followed, the victim was assaulted on three more occasions, both at Marsh’s home and in a classroom at St Edmund’s College.

Marsh forced the boy to touch the older man’s penis, and digitally penetrated the victim.

In sentencing, Justice Michael Elkaim said it was hard to overstate the seriousness of the offending.

“It is difficult to imagine more depraved behaviour upon a young boy,” he said.

‘My sentence is for life’: Victim tells of shame, self-blame

In a victim impact statement made to the court today, the former student took aim at his abuser, telling him he had taken his innocence for his own personal pleasure and could not be forgiven.

He explained the pain and sense of embarrassment and shame he felt following Marsh’s removal from the school, after his mother reported the abuse.

“You were the lucky one.” he said.

“I will never forget you and the evil things you did.”

He asked the court to consider his position before sentencing Marsh.

“My sentence is for life,” he said. “At no point was I given a second chance.”

The victim also reflected on how his emotions and overreactions to events had harmed his family, particularly in the years since he took legal action.

“I can never explain the reason because of the shame and self-blame I still have.”

“My family has and continues to bear the brunt.”

Leniency given due to poor health, elderly mother

Marsh was originally tried for the crime and found guilty of 10 offences against his victim in 2017.

He was sentenced to eight years in jail.

But Marsh won an appeal against the conviction, and was to be retried, until a deal was struck when he finally admitted to five charges of indecent assault on a male.

Marsh was due to be sentenced some months ago, but the proceedings were delayed as he received heart surgery.

Today Marsh’s lawyer Greg Walsh acknowledged the pain of the victim.

“There’s no doubt what this man did was an egregious breach of trust.”

And he said the pleas of guilty should be given some credit.

“That’s important because at long last he conveys to his victim vindication,” Mr Walsh said.

But he asked the court to consider Marsh’s own poor health, and his responsibilities for his elderly mother, who is 97.

Justice Elkaim said those considerations had to be made alongside the importance of condemning the conduct.

“(The circumstances) give rise to elements of leniency which must, however, be balanced against the seriousness of the offences and the community’s need for this type of conduct to be utterly condemned,” he said.

Marsh will serve two years non-parole, but with time already served will be eligible for release late next year.









First posted

September 04, 2019 17:16:30

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