Christian Brother Tyrrell spent 60 years as a Brother and has won an appeal against his conviction

Christian Brother John Francis Tyrrell has had a long career as a Brother in Catholic schools in Melbourne and regional Victoria. In February 2016, the Christian Brothers celebrated the 60th anniversary of Tyrrell's consecration as a Brother. Two years later, in April 2018, Brother Tyrrell (then aged 79) was jailed by a court for allegedly raping a boy at St Joseph's College in Geelong, Victoria, in the 1960s. In March 2019, Tyrrell won his release from jail when the Victorian Court of Appeal quashed his convictions. He had served eleven months behind bars.

Convicted in 2018

John Francis Tyrrell (born in the late 1930s) joined the Christian Brother as a trainee Brother in 1956, when he was aged in his late teens.

Around the year 2016, Victoria Police detectives investigated a complaint which they had received from a former pupil of St Joseph's College in Geelong, alleging that he had been sexually abused by Brother John Tyrrell in 1965-1966. After a preliminary hearing, a magistrate committed John Tyrrell for trial.

In March 2018, John Francis Tyrrell appeared in Melbourne's County Court, facing 14 charges, including buggery and indecent assault, committed against a boy (then aged between 10 and 12) at Geelong’s St Joseph’s College in 1965 and 1966. Tyrrell contested the charges with a plea of not guilty.

A jury found Tyrrell guilty on ten of the charges (four counts of buggery and six counts of indecent assault).

On 26 April 2018, Judge Trevor Wraight sentenced John Francis Tyrrell to a total of eleven years' jail. Tyrrell would have to serve six-and-a-half years behind bars before being eligible to apply for parole.

Conviction quashed in 2019

On 15 March 2019, the Victorian Court of Appeal (Justices Stephen Kaye, Richard Niall and Mark Weinberg) ordered that James Francis Tyrrell be acquitted of all charges.

The Justices found there to be serious discrepancies in the evidence (for example, in dates cited by the complainant). The complainaint maintained he confronted the appellant {Brother Tyrrell} directly at the school in early 1969. However, according to the court “it was clearly established that the appellant had ceased to teach at the school at the end of 1966.”

More than 50 years has passed since the alleged offending, a period of time the court said meant “that several relevant witnesses were no longer able to give evidence.’

The appeal court ordered that Tyrrell be released from jail.

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