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Elderly Salvos worker jailed for sex abuse

AAP logoAAP 28/10/2016 Jacqueline Le

An elderly Victorian man who "remorselessly" sexually abused boys who were in the care of the Salvation Army will spend the remainder of his life behind bars.

Robert Burnett, 77, was on Friday sentenced to 18 years in jail with a minimum of 14 and a half years.

The former Salvation Army boys' home supervisor was found guilty of abusing seven boys between the early 1970s to the late 1990s.

The victims - aged between seven and 13 - were abused at Burnett's home or on camping trips, sometimes while they slept.

Some of the offending took place in the presence of other children.

Other crimes were committed after Burnett invited the children to his mother's home.

After he raped one boy who screamed in pain, the Salvation Army worker tried to comfort the victim, said Victorian County Court Judge Bill Stuart.

"He said something about how he never meant to hurt me, and he loved me very much, and that I was really special," said the victim, quoted by the judge.

Burnett was found guilty of 16 child sex offences after 14 different trials.

His most serious crimes include buggery and sexual penetration of a child under 10.

Burnett befriended some of the victims while employed at Bayswater Boys' Home, a facility operated by the Salvation Army in the 1970s for orphaned or at-risk children.

Others came into contact with Burnett through voluntary community programs.

"You are a predatory pedophile who has abused the trust placed in you by your employer, and the trust from these young boys," said Judge Stuart.

"You built their trust in you only to exploit it for your own sexual gratification."

The judge said character references by Burnett's friends showed he had a positive public persona as a "caring man" and a disturbing personal life.

One woman recalled Burnett talking about how upset he was to learn that children in the facilities where he previously worked had been abused by other staff members.

The woman said Burnett was "horrified" by the psychological damage the abuse had caused the victims.

"The hypocrisy of you expressing such sentiments is stunning," said Judge Stuart.

He also said Burnett had not accepted responsibility for his crimes despite numerous trials and the testimony of all his victims.

"You are remorseless. You are insightless."

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