A royal commission looking at child abuse has heard how a boys home runaway – later thought to be murdered – turned up in court after several years.
A boy who ran away from a Salvation Army home in Queensland and was feared murdered turned up years later in court in NSW.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been told records show that the former resident of the Indooroopilly boys home made several court appearances in NSW between 1977 and 1983.
That was years after he was thought a victim of a pedophile ring alleged to be operating between Queensland and Sydney in 1975.
Detective Superintendent Cameron Harsley, operations manager for the child safety and sexual crime squad in Queensland, said there were no historical records to show the boy was ever reported missing.
A retired Salvation Army major, Clifford Randall, has given evidence that a boy who absconded from the Indooroopilly home and returned after a few days said he and his friend had been flown to Sydney by a wealthy Brisbane shop owner and taken to the home of a “top chef” in Paddington.
His friend never returned.
In reply to Trish McDonald SC for the Salvation Army, Supt Harsley confirmed that NSW charge cards from the late 1970s up to 1983 related to the missing boy.
The detective, who co-ordinates the Queensland child protection investigation unit, supplied the commission with a 1982 article written by two former Queensland Juvenile Aid Bureau policemen.
The article referred to a case study of a boy befriended by a man claiming to run a school in Sydney for training adults in the art of seducing boys.
Supt Harsley told Ms McDonald he thought it “a pertinent article for the commission because it may relate to allegations being made”.
He told the commission that in the ’70s investigations into child abuse would have been carried out in Queensland by local commands but major reforms saw high-tech specialist units put in place.
Earlier on Tuesday the commission was told by Salvation Army Major Marina Randall – who with her husband Major Clifford Randall blew the whistle on extreme abuse by two managers at Indooroopilly – the army once thought abuse complaints were made by money-grabbers.
Ms Randall and her husband were shocked when they witnessed brutal regimes under captains Lawrence Wilson and John McIver from 1973 to 1975.
They reported the two managers to superiors but were disbelieved or ignored for years.
When they made the decision to return to the army Ms Randall worked in the social service section and then in the council that dealt with abuse complaints.
She said there was disbelief about the reality of abuse.
“I think that there was this feeling that was expressed more by a sigh or a look, or maybe even a side word that these complaints couldn’t have been real, they were just attempts at money-grabbing.”
Ms Randall, who is part of the army’s royal commission liaison group, said the attitude had changed and now the whole process “is geared towards trying to find a way to help people”.