Victims tell of lifelong scars from child abuse

Monivae College Brother Edward Mamo sentencing for child sex abuse leaves Warrnambool Courthouse after getting bail.
Monivae College Brother Edward Mamo sentencing for child sex abuse leaves Warrnambool Courthouse after getting bail.

Victims of a paedophile and former Christian Brother wept in court yesterday as they recalled the horror of his crimes.

The men, who were boys at the time the offences occurred, told a Warrnambool court of being taken into a dark basement at Hamilton's Monivae College and being indecently assaulted by  Edward Mamo, now 68, from 1976 to 1980.

Judge Julian Leckie said the victims showed great courage and no one in the court could be anything but moved as their victim impact statements were read .

Mamo, now of Sydney, yesterday pleaded guilty in the County Court to seven charges of unlawful and indecent assault of a child under the age of 16. He sat emotionless throughout the plea hearing.

Mamo was aged between 31 and 35 when the incidents took place and was a Brother of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Australia, which operated Monivae College.

At the time, Mamo undertook laundry duties, ground works, was bus driver and coached hockey at the college.

The court heard of one incident when Mamo had ordered one victim, who was 11 at the time, to the laundry room for punishment and was instructed to drop his shorts and underpants and to bend over an old tea chest in the middle of the room. As the boy did so Mamo produced a thick leather strap and hit the boy 10 to 12 times.

Prosecutor Justin Lewis said on another occasion Mamo was strapping the same victim over the tea chest when the boy turned to see Mamo had one of his hands down the front of his pants. Mamo saw the boy looking and yelled at him to face the front.

In victim impact statements read to the court, the men told of their state of fear, humiliation and disbelief that someone wanted to do this to them.

One man said he had lost trust in all human beings and Mamo's behaviour bled out any respect he had for a Catholic god.

He said his primary objective was to keep Mamo from hurting young people.

Another victim told the court he wanted to thank Mamo for pleading guilty to make it easier for those involved to move on and clearing away any doubt that some people had .

He said as a father he looked at his peers and wondered if it was possible for them to breach his trust and harm his own children.

Another victim told how he had been lured at night down a dark corridor to a basement.

He said he was terrified and thought he should trust Mamo, who had only cared about his selfish desire.

He said for many years he tried to forget but could not and there was a ripple effect throughout his life.

He said he now saw that this suffering didn't have to be carried into the future.

Another victim said the offending left deep emotional scars and he felt disgusted and angry whenever he heard about child abuse.

He said as a boy he had always been involved in the church but Mamo's behaviour created a lack of trust in the church and its hierarchy.

The victim said Mamo was a predator whose victims were young and vulnerable children and he could never forgive Mamo and others who allowed it to happen.

Defence counsel Peta Murphy said Mamo offered his plea of guilty to the victims as an apology for the hurt they had experienced and the harm which had occurred.

Ms Murphy said Mamo's plea of guilty was acknowledgement it was coming after a very long time and the men involved had a need to be heard.

A forensic psychological report was also tendered to the court and Ms Murphy said Mamo had no prior convictions since the offending.

She said his period at Monivae was a terrible blemish on a life otherwise dedicated to the service of his church and later his community.

Judge Leckie adjourned the plea hearing until today and said he expected to sentence Mamo later this week.