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Call for Witnesses – Errol Swain


“Errol Swain and the De La Salle schools”

PH: 02 9283 5599

Australia's Worst Paedophile - Errol Swain
Errol Swain

“Anything discussed will be absolutely CONFIDENTIAL and if you wish completely ANONYMOUS.

We have over 40 separate cases against De La Salle for institutional sexual abuse from 1967 to 1985.

We ask the community to step forward to attest to the actions of Errol Swain and the Brothers.

Anything you saw or witnessed will help these men receive justice and closure.
To this end, Koffels Solicitors & Barristers have made substantial headway into providing support and compensation for those individuals who have suffered through sexual abuse. Due to the fact we are working with victims on a regular basis, we see first hand and understand the incredible impact that this abuse has on the life of an individual.

In many cases the offences were brought to the attention of superiors yet no action was taken against these predators. The very real difficulties so far in life that have arisen as a direct result of the abuse will form part of the compensation that we will seek on your behalf. For a private and confidential conversation with Mr Koffel to discuss your experience and the possibility of a claim, please contact us using our secure and private online form here or to be sure call Ross on 02 9283 5599.

Compensation Payout for Sexual Abuse

Recently on the 5th October last, a Justice at the New South Wales Supreme Court passed a judgment in favour of the victim of child sexual abuse in the amount of $1,548,488.75.

Court’s Decision

The Judgement was adopted from the findings of the former Judge of the district Court of NSW. In actual fact, she was appointed through the court referral process. These were made in relation to the evidence presented before the Justice. Additionally she was also a Justice of the ACT Supreme Court. She is well respected and was appointed as a Referee to assess fiscally the damages that the victim sustained from abuse.

For the purposes of the referee, it was accepted that there was a breach of the duty of care. In other words, those who were responsible for the safety of the child failed to adequately fulfil their duty to look after the adolescent.

Revesby Heights School

The victim suffered prolonged and horrific sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the perpetrator. At the time of the crime, he was a young boy in grade 6 at De La Salle College. There are many schools that fall under the La Salle banner. Nonetheless these abuses occurred at Revesby Heights in the 1980’s. Sadly the boy was only 11 to 12 years of age when Errol Swain, his then class teacher, sexually assaulted him. Errol Swain died in November 1985 after being exposed. It has been said that Errol Swain was possible Australia’s worst paedophile.

Mr Errol Swain also taught religious studies. What’s more he was allowed by the Principal to live on school grounds in a caravan. Many other former students have since made allegations of physical and sexual abuse against Mr Swain. In fact, some if these allegations go back to when he was a teacher at De La Salle College in Bankstown in the 1960’s.

Breakdown of Damages

Non-Economic Loss (assessed at 50% of a Most Extreme Case) $306,500
Past Economic Loss $474,462
Past Superannuation Loss $52,191
Interest on Past Economic Loss $189,595
Future Income Loss $405,420
Future Superannuation Loss $50,427
Past Medical Expenses $10,988.75
Future Medical Expenses $58,905


If you have suffered abuse, or know someone who has, please call to speak with one of our lawyers on 02 9283 5599.

In looking more deeply into the above breakdown, we can see how the Referee distributed the compensation payout. This offers very important guidance in assessing compensation for personal injury damages for victims of child abuse.

Physical Abuse

Firstly, the Referee found that the physical abuse that the victim was subjected to was connected to the sexual abuse. Without a doubt, this physical and sexual abuse warranted consideration in her findings of non-economic loss. On the whole, non-economic loss is payment of a lump sum of compensation for pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. She found that the physical abuse which consisted of being belted with a 30cm long strap made of three layers of thick leather, was a way by which Errol Swain isolated the victim. Once the child was isolated he used this opportunity to sexually abuse the victim under the guise of comforting him.

This became a point of contention during proceedings. That is, the lawyers defending the College submitted that the beatings with the strap were not serious enough to be considered as compensation for his suffering. Rather that this was an everyday form of punishment.

The Referee dismissed the above argument. This also resulted in acknowledging the evidence of the defendant’s expert psychiatrist that Errol Swain was a “brutal teacher with a sadistic nature”.

Given these points, the Referee decided that the victim was left traumatised by the abuse of an authority figure acting on the instructions of the Catholic school. This resulted in the victim losing faith, trust and self-esteem. To this end he experienced terrible guilt, shame, anxiety, depression, nightmares and vivid flashbacks.

Loss of Earning Capacity

The loss of earning capacity has serious implications, sooner or later, in the life of a victim of sexual abuse. After many years of prolonged sexual and physical abuse the mental and emotional state of a victim deteriorates significantly. In truth the feelings of guilt, shame and depression that cloud the mind and emotions tend to distort reality and prevent integrated action. Evidently an emotional pattern develops that makes career progression and normal life difficult to attain.

Had it not been for the abuse, the victim would have been able to achieve better outcomes academically. As a result this would have resulted in opportunity to attain university qualifications.

In fact she found that the evidence established that the victim had the intellectual capacity to achieve a higher level of education. Chiefly the deficiencies in his schooling was a result of the sexual and physical abuse by Errol Swain. Such deficiencies later prevented him from attaining the higher level of education that he was capable of achieving.

The Referee found that if it were not for the abuse, he would have had the capacity to earn 20% above the average weekly wage of male employees in New South Wales.

Also, the Referee allowed amounts for ongoing medical treatments and needs, including times of relapses in his condition.

Prolonged Abuse

On the whole the victim suffered prolonged physical and sexual abuse. Subsequently the decision of the Referee has now provided justice for this victim. Indeed, this occurred at a crucial time in his life when he was a vulnerable child. What’s more is the long standing impact upon an individual is significant.

We hope the reasoning behind the Judgment and findings pave the way for victims of historic child sexual abuse. Therefore, victims can get the justice they deserve.

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