Skip to main content

Former De La Salle Revesby Student Awarded $1.5 Million for Child Sexual Abuse

On 5 October 2018, the Supreme Court of New South Wales entered Judgment in favour of a Plaintiff who was the victim of child sexual abuse in the amount of $1,548,488.75 plus costs.


The Judgment was adopted from the findings of former Judge of the District Court of New South Wales and Justice of the ACT Supreme Court, Ms Margaret Sidis. Also, Ms Sidis was appointed through the Court’s referral process (20.14 to 20.24 of the Uniform Civil Procedure Rules 2005). In addition she was appointed as a Referee to assess the quantum of damages of the Plaintiff’s claim.

For the purposes of the referral, it was accepted that there was a breach of duty of care. Additionally, that the breach caused the Plaintiff loss and damages.

The Plaintiff was the victim of prolonged and horrific sexual and physical abuse. This occurred when he was a student (Year 6) at De La Salle College, Revesby Heights in the early 1980’s. He was only 11 to 12 years of age. The abuse was perpetrated by his class teacher, Mr Errol Swain. Swain died in November 1985 after being exposed as a serial paedophile.

Mr Swain had also taught religious studies and was even allowed by the Principal to live on the School’s premises in a caravan. There have been numerous other allegations of physical and sexual abuse made by students against Mr Swain. In fact, these going back to when he was a teacher at De La Salle, Bankstown in the 1960’s.

The Referee assessed each head of damage as follows:


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

The Referee’s reasoning offers much-needed guidance in assessing personal injury damages for victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse.

Firstly, the Referee found that the physical abuse the Plaintiff was subjected to was connected to the sexual abuse and warranted consideration in her determination of non-economic loss. She found that the physical abuse, which consisted of strappings with a 30-cm long strap made of three layers of thick leather, was a means of isolating the Plaintiff in the pretext of allowing him to recover. Specifically Mr Swain would utilise the opportunity to sexually abuse the Plaintiff under the guise of comforting the Plaintiff.

The Referee’s reasoning offers much needed guidance in assessing personal injury damages for victims of childhood sexual and physical abuse.

Firstly, the Referee found that the physical abuse the Plaintiff was subjected to was connected to the sexual abuse and warranted consideration in her determination of non-economic loss. She found that the physical abuse, which consisted of strappings with a 30-cm long strap made of three layers of thick leather, was a means of isolating the Plaintiff in the pretext of allowing him to recover. Specifically Mr Swain would utilise the opportunity to sexually abuse the Plaintiff under the guise of comforting the Plaintiff.

Loss of Earning Capacity

When determining the Plaintiff’s loss of earning capacity, the Referee found that had it not been for the abuse, he would have achieved better outcomes academically and been afforded the opportunity to attain university qualifications.

She found that the evidence established that the Plaintiff had the intellectual capacity to achieve a higher level of education. The deficiencies in his schooling at the School was a result of the sexual and physical abuse by Mr Swain. It was these deficiencies which prevented him from attaining the higher level of education that he was capable of achieving.

The Referee found that the Plaintiff, but for the abuse, 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 treatment needs, including times of relapses in his condition.

Prolonged Abuse

The Plaintiff was subjected to a prolonged period of physical and sexual abuse. Subsequently, this judgement has now provided justice.  Indeed, this occurred at a crucial time in his life when he was a vulnerable child. The long-standing impact upon an individual is significant.

We can only hope that the Judgment and Referee’s findings and reasons pave the way for victims of historic child sexual abuse.  Therefore, victims may get the justice they deserve.

The Plaintiff who wishes to remain private stated that he was very pleased with the outcome. He felt vindicated for pursuing his claim, although it has been a difficult time. Additionally he added that he hoped that he may have helped any other former students or victims who were abused by Swain. Also, to aid them in their fight for justice and accountability.

Koffels Solicitors & Barristers are proud of the work we do and the groundbreaking results we obtain for our clients. If you are a victim of institutional child sexual abuse, we believe we can give you the support and advice on obtaining proper compensation for which victims are truly entitled. Please do not hesitate to contact us on our secure encrypted form. Alternatively you may contact Mr Koffel confidentially on 02 9283 5599.

All enquiries are held in the strictest confidence.
Ross Koffel
Sydney, Australia

26 replies to Former De La Salle Revesby Student Awarded $1.5 Million for Child Sexual Abuse

  1. Errol Swain at De La Salle Revesby and De La Salle Bankstown, Patrician Brothers Blacktown.

  2. The ‘Christian’ brothers at St Patrick’s College, Sutherland soenspent many years terrorising students with physical abuse. The strappings were brutal and traumatising. We lived in daily fear of their abuse.

    1. Dear Matthew,

      We would be interested in discussing your comments. Please call Ross Koffel anytime on (02) 9283 5599.

  3. Swain taught at De Las Salle Bankstown in the 1960s and was forced to leave due to molestation allegations there. A few years later they welcomed him back at Revesby.

    Swain attacked many boys, me included. It’s impossible to believe the school didn’t know, though they deny it.

    What is undeniable is that they let him indulge his sadistic violence on the boys every day.

    Our year five teacher was Protestant, so Swain had us every day for half an hour religion – had to be taught by a good Catholic! His version of religion was open violence and secret sexual abuse.

    Not all of us had our lives derailed as badly as the boy in this case but the evil Swain and De La Salle Revesby perpetrated haunts many old boys to this day.

    I don’t believe in any religion any more, but I hope he and Brother Michael are somewhere burning.

    1. We agree with your comments. We are aware of Swain teaching at Bankstown and that Brother Michael employed him at Revesby. Would like the opportunity to chat to you. Please call Ross Koffel on 02 9283 5599.

  4. Wow this is unbelievably sad I was sent to a De la salle run boys home and heard often from the bros about the private schools they ran and how lucky we were to be getting that level of education. Well I am saddened to now know that education included the same sorts or horrendous physical and sexual abuse I suffered. I know they just moved brothers to different schools/states and even countries to protect their own. I hope any parent will seriously consider that before sending any child into the care of the Catholic Church or it’s orders/institutions they have demonstrated reapeatedly they will protect their own not your child. My love goes out to the victims of this horrible abuse. If this has happened to you you can come forward you are not alone. We stand together united by our experience & ability to speak up and tell the horrors of our youth.

  5. Dear Mr Koffel,
    I attended De La Salle Revesby from 1975 to 1981. My brother was in Mr Swains class but was unaware of the abuse when questioned by my parents at the time.

    I thank you very much for what you have done for the chap (Mr A.C ) who was a friend of my brothers. This coming from an retired police officer to a lawyer.
    Old Wally (Br Anslem) whilst I was in fifth class used to check our testicle with his hands every swimming day as you came in the door on the pretext that you may have had wet cosies on, he was a frightening man and my life at the school was a misery. I thank you very much for the part in what you have played to bring these monsters to judgement and the Roman Catholic Church to be dragged kicking and screaming into the daylight
    Thanking you.
    Yours sincerely
    Matt McGrath

  6. Things weren’t much better in the early 80’s either…with the likes of Brophy (Cormac),
    Brothers Peter, Alphonso, Ignatius, Gregory, Stan and Raymond…. Staff like Steve Grey, Jane Bell, Aileen Ahern, thrown into the mix. We didn’t stand a chance. I am 51 now and I still haven’t come to terms with what happened at Boystown. It has effected every facet of my life. Denied redress because I was in prison, it took another victim to convince me to give Koffels a go….

    The most genuine and down to earth bunch of lawyers Ive ever known….

    1. Jason, I see you named Bro Cormac (Brophy) in your email of 28 Aug 2019.
      I knew Cormac (Brophy) in the 1960s and have never forgotten him.
      If you would like to share any memories of him, I’d be appreciative.

  7. I went to De La Salle Revesby, brother George was one of my teachers, this was from 1960-67.
    I witnessed, along with the rest of my class, who were made to stand up and watch. A friend Gerard Bonk, unfortunate name, had refused to put his hand out for the strap. The principal Brother Dunstan was sent for. He rushed into the room. Strap in hand, grabbed Gerard, pushed him into a corner. He beat him all over his body. Gerard had slid down onto the floor. Snpt oozing from his nose, sobbing. We were terrified. I cannot ever forget this abuse. Terrifying. I am now 68 years old.

    1. Brian Norman, I am Gerards sister , Margaret. I am so sad to hear this happened to my brother. I am also sad that this has been in your head for such a long time.

    1. Civil action through a great firm like Koffels is the only way to obtain compensation. 95% of the time, Mediation will have the required result in respect to compensation. The Redress Scheme is problematic at best, the maximum payout of $150K is $50K below what the Royal Commission suggested. My payout was almost 3 times the maximum of the Redress Scheme and how many have actually received $150K. My payout included Costs too. The Catholic Church and Catholic Church Insurance would love the Redress scheme. Marist, Christian and De La Sale Brothers are all liable and accountable for historical child sexual abuse and we are lucky to have the dedication of Ross Koffel and his Team to represent the Survivors.

  8. Hi – only if you were around when the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, Assault, Harassment, Sexual Rap into Child Orphanages, Institutions, Welfare, Homes, Foster Care, Placing & other places would us people get a fair go.

    1. Hi Arthur

      Thank you for your comment.

      You do not need to be part of the Royal Commission to receive compensation. You can make a claim directly against the person who abused you or the institution that failed to protect you.

      The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was concluded in December 2017. Royal Commissions make recommendations to the government about what should change. They do not provide financial payment directly to the survivors of abuse.

      For all survivors of child abuse, there are different ways of receiving compensation, depends on everyone’s circumstances.

      We encourage all survivors of child abuse to contact a lawyer who specialises in child abuse compensation.

      If you would like to know your rights and entitlements, please feel free to give us a call on 02 9283 5599 or visit our website to arrange a free consultation with one of our experienced sexual abuse lawyers.

    2. I was a victim of a sex abuse of Mr Ean Michael Lee orange Grove public school in the1967 I’m Anthony payne

      1. Hi Anthony,
        If you would like to talk to one of our abuse specialists, for free and in confidence, about your legal options, please feel free to fill out any form here on our website with the best way and the best time to contact you. You can let us know if you’d be more comfortable talking to a male or female associate, or you can call us during Sydney office hours on 02 9283 5599.

  9. Christian brothers concord was an evil principal that ruined children’s lives and it’s so terribly terrifying to read about the innocent children that was robbed of there lives for ever and ever amen.

  10. I was in Adrian’s class and yes Swain was a violent evil bastard , I too was molested several times by Swain through years 6 and 7 . I had kept it to myself and thought that I would take those experiences to the grave, but confided to my wife of 23 years just a few nights ago. I must have been unimaginably difficult for Adrian to come forward in such a public way.

  11. I had Swain for 1 full year at Bankstown De La Salle. Then, he followed our class through secondary school where he had been the Primary school head for many years previously.
    We thought we were the unluckiest form in Australia when he followed us into 1st form.
    He was terrifying for a young boy in 6th class.
    I remember he would play games called ‘Around the Wall’ where, we all had to stand around the wall and be asked a question by him. If you got the answer correct, you could sit down. If you got the question wrong, you remained and at the end of ‘Round One, everyone who got the question wrong would receive 4 of the best from that leather strap he was so proud of. This was a terrifying experience especially, on a cold winters morning.

    Then, round two would start and on we’d go.

    He would sometimes ask you easy questions with a little ink applied or, depending on his mood, he’d ask you questions he knew you didn’t know.
    Many times, he’d throw a hissy fit and send you off to a remote room he had and make you stew as he made out that he was disgusted with you. And, you’d sit there isolated and alone waiting for the monster to eventually show up.
    30 mins or so later, he’d turn up and place his hand on the top inside of your leg or, around your shoulders and pull you close telling you how much he loved you and all he was trying to do ‘was to get the best out of you’. It was a horrible experience.

    He’d also try and get me around on the weekend, to his house in Glassop st where he supposedly, lived with his mother. I was never that stupid.
    He was a complete creep and even as a young kid, I was savvy enough to know that he was getting ‘off sexually’ on the beatings he was giving to us kids. He was a masochist with some psycho-sexual bent. You could see him getting ‘off’ after metering out his special punishment in front of the whole class.
    The Principal and other teachers HAD to know! They HAD to know because, all of us kids knew.
    Swain was a creep of creeps and now, as a 66 yr old ex De La Salle Student, I look at that young boy that I was and I’m in awe and absolutely amazed how that young boy navigated through that physical and emotional torture. I am amazed!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Request a free consultation