William Skelland jailed for historic assaults on Burwood Boys’ Home

An elderly man who abused five children in his care nearly 50 years ago and blamed his wife for his crimes has been jailed for more than six years.

William Skelland and his then-wife were “country parents” at Burwood Boys’ Home in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs when he attacked and molested boys aged six to 14, sometimes repeatedly, in 1973 and 1974. children were under the guardianship of the state. .

The Burwood Children’s Home.Credit:Australasian Care Leavers Network

When a boy told the head of the house about Skelland’s abuse, the manager punched the victim in the face, County Court Judge Mark Dean said. But Skelland was fired in 1974 when other boys came forward, although the police were not called.

Skelland’s crimes remained hidden for decades until they were investigated by the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, and charges were later brought by police.

Dean jailed Skelland, now 81, for six years and nine months on Monday after he pleaded guilty to nine counts of indecent assault. He must serve at least four years and will be eligible for parole next year.

The judge said Skelland’s crimes had a lasting and devastating impact on his victims, and that everyone would have been terrified when he attacked them, either in their bedrooms or while they were watching television.

“He has been brought to justice for his heinous attacks on vulnerable young people whom he was tasked with caring for,” Dean told Skelland, who was unmoved as he watched the hearing on a video link from prison.

“You systematically abused them for your own deviant sexual gratification.”

After the boys’ initial reports, Skelland told the head of the household that he hadn’t had sex with his wife for a long time because she was pregnant. He repeated that excuse at a plea hearing last week.

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