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Former pupil accuses jailed principal of brutality

GLADSTONE retiree David Weir remembers 1975 as "the year from hell".

Mr Weir, now 53, was a student at the Gladstone Catholic high school in 1974-75 and is still haunted by the year Brother John Dennis Maguire was his principal there.

On March 20, Maguire was jailed for child sex abuse at a Sydney college in 1983.

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He moved to Sydney from Gladstone and the incidents happened soon afterwards.

Since his case hit the headlines last week, former students have come forward to this paper - some of them new alleged victims, others claiming the man made their schooling years unpleasant with physical abuse.

"If you were walking down the hallway and he was behind you it was nothing for him to kick you up the backside," Mr Weir said. "I was 13 at the time. My nickname was 'Weedy' because I was so thin. He would kick me into the air.

"He would punch you in the arm if you got a question wrong. He was a fully grown man punching young kids.

"Now I'm a fully grown man, I'd love to have 10 minutes alone with him."

Mr Weir, a former community aged-care program manager who was forced into early retirement six years ago when he was diagnosed with Meniere's disease, said he had never been hit with the cane before 1975, when Maguire became principal.

"He would smile while he was caning you," he said.

Education Queensland wouldn't comment but according to their website, corporal punishment in Queensland state schools was a constant problem for educational administrators from 1860 to its abolition in 1995.

While the law did not change to any great extent during those years, the regulations of the Department of Education progressively restricted its use. Some teachers disregarded these rules.

Until the 1970s, the consensus of opinion in the educational field was that corporal punishment was a necessary evil to be used as a last resort.

Solicitor Greg Walsh has represented Maguire for many years. He said he was unaware of brutality claims.

On Friday, Gladstone police said no allegations had been brought to them against Maguire.

Topics:  sex abuse



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