WA News


Board member regrets listening to abuser

A former school board member has told an inquiry that expelling a teenage couple because notorious paedophile Dennis McKenna said they were "flaunting" their relationship, was the one of the worst things he ever did, considering what he now knows about McKenna.

The special inquiry into child sex abuse follows the jailing of McKenna, who sexually abused boys at St Andrew's Hostel, a state-run facility in Western Australia's Great Southern region, where he was head warden from 1975 to 1990.

Robert Hendry, 64, was a board member at the school from March 1986 to February 1990.

He told the inquiry today that there was a rule in the hostel that boys and girls were not allowed to date each other.

Mr Hendry said a boy and girl who were in a relationship were brought to the board and told to "cool it" until they finished school.

He said McKenna was also told to keep an eye on the pair to make sure they "toe the line".


However, McKenna went back to the board later and told them that the couple was "flaunting" their relationship, he said.

Mr Hendry said the board then decided to expel the students, which he regrets, now that he knows McKenna was abusing boys at the hostel.

"(It was) one of the worst things I've done," he said.

Mr Hendry admitted McKenna had "pulled the wool over our eyes" for several years.

The inquiry, headed by retired Supreme Court judge Peter Blaxell, is examining whether people in positions of authority covered up sexual abuse of children at the Katanning hostel in the 1970s and 1980s.

McKenna was jailed in October for six years after pleading guilty to sexually abusing six boys, aged 13 to 15, in his care. He had been jailed in 1991 for similar offences.

His brother, Neil McKenna, was convicted this month of abusing a girl at the hostel.

The inquiry is expected to be completed this month, with a report to be presented by July 18.