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  Home :: 2006 November :: Court cuts jail term for Christian Brother

A Christian Brother who admitted sexually abusing pupils atChristian Brothers' schools between 1971 and 1982 yesterday won athree-year reduction of his jail sentence.

The Court of Appeal reduced the sentence of nine years and eight months' jail imposed on Edward Vernon Dowlan, 46, to six-and-a-half years after finding he was wrongly categorised as a serious sexual offender.

The minimum term of six years was reduced to four.

Dowlan had pleaded guilty to 16 counts of indecently assaulting 11male students under the age of 16 between March 1971 and July 1982. Theoffences were committed on victims aged from nine to 13 at fourCatholic schools where Dowlan taught.

The schools were St Alipius College and St Patrick's College inBallarat, St Thomas More's College, Forest Hill, and Cathedral College,East Melbourne.

In upholding the appeal, Justice Stephen Charles said that Dowlan'slawyers argued he was not an offender convicted of and jailed for twoor more sexual offences as defined under changes to the Sentencing Act.He said it was argued that none of the indecent assault offences couldbe categorised in that way.

He said any ambiguity in serious sexual offender legislation, whichcould have draconian consequences for a declared offender, had to beresolved in Dowlan's favor. Justice Howard Nathan agreed the appealshould succeed and the sentence reduced.

The Chief Justice, Justice John H. Phillips, said the differinginterpretations of Justice Charles and the sentencing judge, whodeclared Dowlan to be a serious sexual offender, were both open. Hesaid any ambiguity in legislation should be resolved in Dowlan's favor,but he would not have given the reduced sentence.

Justice Charles said previous interpretation of the legislativechanges would require the prosecution to identify and prove thecommission of an additional act by Dowlan - one of a degrading orhumiliating nature - to meet the relevant definition of

sexual offence.


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Pedophilia and sexual abuse of children in Australia