A TEACHER and Scouts leader who sexually abused boys under his care in Inglewood and Myrtleford in the 1960s has been jailed for six months.
Guy Fontaine Featherstone, 77, was sentenced in the Bendigo Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday to four counts of committing an indecent act against children under 16.
He was sentenced to two years’ jail, with 18 months of the sentence suspended. Featherstone must also serve an 18-month community corrections order when released.
Featherstone – who was in his early 20s at the time of the offending – abused two boys as a Scout leader in Myrtleford, before he was transferred to the Inglewood Upper Elementary School where he abused two more boys.
One boy was abused multiple times in the Inglewood Town Hall while Featherstone was his teacher. Another was abused while riding a school bus, in the presence of other children.
The other two victims were abused while camping with Featherstone near Inglewood, and while on a Scouts camp.
Magistrate Bruce Cottrill said the abuse of children was “abhorrent”.
“Suffice to say that your offending occurred in coercive circumstances against vulnerable, prepubescent boys,” he said.
“It was clear that your actions were planned and opportunistic.
“It was in circumstances where your victims were entrusted to your care. Your actions represent a significant breach of trust.”
Defence counsel George Georgiou had argued that Featherstone’s frailty, and his young age when offending, meant prison would be unnecessary. He also said that Featherstone had “volunteered” his admission to abusing a second boy, meaning the police investigation was able to move forward.
Mr Cottrill said Featherstone’s age, both now and when offending, could not be considered as mitigating factors.
Featherstone will be on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Justice for victims in Inglewood and Myrtleford after 53 years
Victims of Guy Fontaine Featherstone hugged and wept after the sentence was handed down, believing justice had been served.
Three of the four victims were present in court for both the plea hearing and sentencing, and were doubtful that Featherstone would be jailed for the offending given his frail state.
One victim – who was abused by Featherstone in Inglewood – said he never thought he would see the day that his abuser would be lead away to a police van.
“[It’s been] 53 years of pain and suffering, not only for ourselves, but our families,” he said.
“We all felt he probably wouldn’t go to jail, even though we all wanted him to. We were happy if he got one night in jail just to make him realise.
“He seems not to have had any consideration for us. He can’t look any of us in the eye.”
The court heard police are investigating further allegations against Featherstone from the 1990s.
The victims present in court on Wednesday were hopeful police would continue to expose paedophiles in the community.
“I hid mine for 28 years, it was the only secret I had in my marriage,” one said.
“Tell your story. It’s not your fault, it’s never your fault, it’s always the fault of the paedophiles.
“Believe me, as a person who told my wife and counsellor 28 years after the event, that day I felt like a 10-tonne weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I started to rebuild my life.”