A man who was entrusted to care for young boys at a Victorian orphanage in the 1970s instead repeatedly molested them, a Melbourne court has been told.
William Parker Skelland, 81, indecently assaulted the children while he and his wife were working as "cottage parents" at the Burwood Boys' Home in 1973 and 1974.
While Skelland was employed to care for the boys aged five to 11, he instead abused them in their beds at night, sometimes repeatedly over several months.
He also assaulted some of the victims while in a lounge room watching television with other children present.
The court heard one of the boys was moved to a different cottage after reporting the abuse to an official, but he was sent back to Skelland's place a few months later and the abuse resumed.
"You were supposed to look after me but at the first opportunity, you molested me," the victim told the County Court on Monday.
Skelland and his wife were fired from the orphanage in September 1974 because of the abuse allegations, but it took another 45 years before he was charged with nine counts of indecent assault upon a male person.
Skelland was in England when the charges were laid in December 2019 and he fought extradition on medical grounds before he was eventually brought to Australia in July last year.
He initially contested the charges at a committal hearing in February, the court was told, but he decided to plead guilty before the hearing ended.
Judge Mark Dean noted Skelland still denied some of the offending.
The 81-year-old's lawyer Nadia Kaddeche told the court Skelland made partial admissions to police and his psychologist, and his guilty plea was a show of remorse.
Skelland had a myriad of physical and mental health issues, including depression and mixed personality disorder, Ms Kaddeche said.
He was also diagnosed with paedophilic disorder, but Ms Kaddeche said a psychologist had deemed his risk of reoffending as low.
Skelland has already served 887 days in custody, including time at Ravenhall Correctional Centre's hospital unit.
While Ms Kaddeche conceded a jail term was an appropriate sentence, she said the judge should consider the time Skelland's already served, his old age, health issues and his guilty plea.
Judge Dean said the offending was so serious Skelland should be jailed for at least three years, regardless of any mitigating circumstances.
Skelland, who appeared in court via video link, spoke up as Monday's hearing was ending, telling the judge he was sorry for what happened to the boys.
The 81-year-old will be sentenced in the County Court next week.
Australian Associated Press
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