The disgraced priest giving evidence at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.
The disgraced priest giving evidence at the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.

Australia's worst pedophile priest could be free in 2022

NOTORIOUS paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is unlikely to ever taste freedom again.

In Victoria's County Court this morning Australia's worst sex offender priest had another three years added to his minimum jail term, meaning he cannot seek parole until 2022.

Part of the 11-year sentence he was given today will be served at the same time as a previous sentence, meaning he may serve just an extra three months for each of the 12 new victims who bravely came forward to report abuse.

The horrific ordeal of one young girl whose father left her on a church altar to be raped by Ridsdale moved the County Court to tears when it was revealed earlier this month.

It's believed his true victim count is in the hundreds, though officially Ridsdale's total victim count is 65.

Ridsdale was first charged with child sex offences in 1993. He was jailed the following year and has never been released but was due to be eligible for parole in 2019.

Ridsdale is 83 and his lawyers had urged judge Irene Lawson not to interfere with his chances of being freed in 2019.

But the judge was not swayed.

"Your appalling pattern of offending was quickly established after your ordination," she said.

"You sexually assaulted (children) for your own sexual gratification."

Judge Lawson said sentencing Ridsdale, his fifth sentence since 1993, was a complex exercise.

She said while totality was a matter she had to consider in sentencing, the seriousness of Ridsdale's offending demanded more jail time.

Ridsdale refused to look any of his victims in the face, instead sitting with his head bowed down the entire hearing.

As Judge Lawson outlined the gravity of his depraved offending, he held his head in his hands.

He made no reaction once sentence was passed.

Sources have told the Herald Sun Ridsdale is resigned to the fact he will die in prison, and just wants to be left alone.

Several victims were in court for the hearing with some wiping tears as details of their abuse were outlined.

One victim sat with a counsellor in court, scarred decades after their abuse.

They made no reaction as the sentence was handed down, but said outside court they were glad Ridsdale was a step closer to dying behind bars.

He has pleaded to 161 indictable charges since his initial arrest, but he has admitted the true victim count is in the hundreds.

"Your actions were violent and abusive. You abused your position of power and trust over each of your complainants," Judge Lawson said.

"You knew at all times what you were doing was wrong. You knew no boundaries, on occasion offending in your church, in the confessional and in various presbyteries."

As Judge Lawson outlined the gravity of his depraved offending, he held his head in his hands.

He made no reaction once sentence was passed.

Sources have told the Herald Sun Ridsdale is resigned to the fact he will die in prison, and just wants to be left alone.

Several victims were in court for the hearing with some wiping tears as details of their abuse were outlined.

One victim sat with a counsellor in court, scarred decades after their abuse.

They made no reaction as the sentence was handed down, but said outside court they were glad Ridsdale was a step closer to dying behind bars.

He has pleaded to 161 indictable charges since his initial arrest, but he has admitted the true victim count is in the hundreds.

"Your actions were violent and abusive. You abused your position of power and trust over each of your complainants," Judge Lawson said.

"You knew at all times what you were doing was wrong. You knew no boundaries, on occasion offending in your church, in the confessional and in various presbyteries."

Ridsdale has blamed the Catholic Church for failing to stop the abuse, saying they knew from before his ordination that he had a problem.

He was shuffled between parishes and sent for counselling but never reported to authorities.

"This is the worst example of this sort of offending, it's never been dealt with in the state of Victoria," Judge Lawson said during Ridsdale's plea hearing.

Prosecutor Jeremy McWilliams said he had been unable to find a comparable case.

"It is hard to imagine a man who has had a more devastating effect upon all of those who have had the misfortune of coming into contact with him," he said.

Ridsdale is expected to be in court for today's hearing.

News Corp Australia


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