This priest abused 14 boys in NSW, police allege

  • By a Broken Rites researcher, article updated 9 October 2017

For 34 years until 1995, Father David Joseph Perrett was a priest in the Armidale Catholic diocese, which covers a large region in northern New South Wales, extending up the New England Highway to the Queensland border. In 2017, Perrett (now aged 80 and no longer working as a priest) is facing court, charged with sexual offences allegedly committed against 14 young boys between 1970 and 1982 while he was working as a priest. In May 2017, NSW police charged him regarding four of these boys. After these charges became public, more of Perrett's alleged victims contacted the police. By October 2017, police charged him in court regarding another ten boys. Police are continuing their investigation.

The first charges, May 2017

Until 2017, Perrett had been living in retirement in Wallangarra, Queensland. Two Armidale detectives went to Queensland, where they obtained an extradition order to take Perrett back, in custody, to NSW. On 7 May 2017, Perrett faced a bail hearing in Armidale Local Court.

According to court documents, detectives alleged that Perrett indecently assaulted one young boy three times between January 1 and December 31, 1970, at Armidale. He was also accused of assaulting the same young boy in Armidale twice in 1971 and then again in 1972. Perrett was also alleged to have indecently abused two young boys in Lower Creek, at different times in 1976, and a fourth boy at Guyra in 1982-1983.

The Armidale court granted bail while Perrett is awaiting his future court proceedings. He was required to reside with a family member in Armidale and must report to police four times a week.

Speaking on behalf of NSW police, Detective Inspector Ann Joy said in media statement in May 2017: "We would encourage anyone with knowledge of any related incident, whether it is a witness or a complainant, to make contact with police. We will investigate those matters thoroughly and as a matter of priority.”

In mid-2017, more members of the public contacted the Armidale detectives about Perrett.

More charges, later in 2017

By October 2017, Armidale detectives charged Perrett regarding ten more boys, involving 43 charges. This makes a total of 14 alleged victims, involving a total of 59 charges.

In Armidale Local Court, prosecutors tried to have Perrett's bail revoked for several reasons, including that there could be interference against witnesses. However, the court allowed bail to continue.

Perrett has not yet been required to indicate how he will plead regarding the charges.

Detectives have been granted extra time to compile the brief of evidence, and the court has ordered Perrett to return to court soon for another brief preliminary procedure. After that, the court will fix a date for the main hearing.

Some background

In 1996, while he was working as a priest, Father David Joseph Perrett appeared in court in New South Wales, where he pleaded guilty to sexually abusing young boys in north-western NSW. The charges comprised indecent assault of two boys at one parish (Walgett) and sexual assault of one boy at another parish (Guyra).

In Orange District Court on 1 November 1996, Judge Shillington sentenced Perrett to a three-year good-behaviour bond. The annual Australian Catholic Directories continued to list Father Perrett as a priest of the Armidale diocese (“on leave”) until his name was removed in 2001.

Born 13 July 1937, David Joseph Perrett was baptised at the Warialda Catholic Church which was then a part of the Bingara parish (both these places are within the Armidale diocese). Eventually he was recruited to become a priest in the Armidale diocese.

In the 1970s, Father Dave Perrett was located at the Armidale Cathedral and in 1979 his postal address was the bishop’s house.

In the 1980s he was “chaplain” to the diocese’s “John XXIII Centre for Aborigines”. He was later in charge of rural parishes at Guyra and then Walgett, both of which included Aboriginal families.

Another complaint against Perrett was aired on ABC-TV’s “Four Corner” on 11 November 2002. The program featured a written statement by a young Aboriginal, Edward Russell, who said he was sexually assaulted by Father Perrett as a boy at Walgett. However, this complaint never reached a court. Edward Russell (born in 1973) had an intellectual disability and was partially deaf. He had a traumatic adolescence. He went on to be convicted himself of crimes and he eventually committed suicide in jail. To see the "Four Corners" program, click HERE.