Church of England boys group leader Victor Madeley apologises to victims after years of abuse

Wagga Local Court
Wagga Local Court

Seven different victims waiting almost three decades for justice after suffering at the hands of a man who sexually abused them have been told they may not get the result they need.

The victims were warned the sentence given to their abuser will look disproportionate, as it will be based on laws at the time of offending between 1974 and 1985.

Once a pillar of the community, the former leader of a Riverina Church of England Boys Society group formally apologised through his barrister to each of the seven victims in Wagga District Court on Friday. 

Victor Madeley, 82, has pleaded guilty to 22 charges, including buggery and a number of indecent assaults. 

Crown solicitor Lisa Hanshaw indicated the apology was cold comfort, as Madeley had previously described the offences as “carrying-ons”. 

“Referring to them as ‘carrying-ons” is a trivialisation, when these were extremely wicked, serious offences,” she said.

“In almost 30 years between the last offence and his arrest there is no evidence to suggest that he’s had an awakening. 

“The Crown would submit he’s simply grown older – he’s taken no positive steps to rehabilitate himself.” 

On December 2, 2016 Madeley admitted to 15 offences against five boys in a town that cannot be named due to a court order to protect the victims’ identities.

More recent charges include three counts of sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old boy without his consent and four counts of indecently assaulting him. 

Those crimes occurred between December 1, 1984, and March 3, 1985, in another Riverina town that also cannot be named.

The earlier charges include one count of buggery, 11 counts of indecent assault and four counts of procuring an act of indecency in the 1970s.

Judge Gordon Lerve told the court he was not prepared to accept Madeley was remorseful for his actions. 

“It’s one thing to put an apology through counsel – I have no doubt he’s been instructed to make those apologies which are untested and came late,” he said. 

Ms Hanshaw said the victims were aware the sentence would not be on par of what people committing these offences today would expect to receive. 

“The trouble is this offending was never reported,” Judge Lerve said. 

Barrister Roland Keller told the victims he didn’t want to trivialise the offences while representing Madeley. 

“My client doesn’t step away from the fact that for all of these boys he was in a position where he was supposed to be trustworthy, he was supposed to be someone their parents could trust,” he said. 

“He's failed abysmally in the moral conduct that is required in that context.

“None of it is trivial and I’m conscious of my duty to them (the victims), my client and the court.” 

The court heard Madeley had made threats to keep the victims quiet. 

“It explains why the offending was able to continue, it was a significant threat for a teenage boy in the ‘70s to be told that if you tell anyone – I’ll tell everyone you’re gay,” Judge Lerve said. 

While Mr Keller said it was “inevitable” his client would be imprisoned for the offences, sentencing procedures in that period did consider options other than jail. 

“In today's world people would be horrified but we’re obliged to deal with the world as it was in the 1970s and the 1980s,” he said.

Judge Lerve said there was a volume of material to get through and he wouldn’t be able to do the case justice by delivering his sentence on Friday.

He adjourned the case until March 1, when a date for the sentence is expected to be set.