A dying man will next week become the first under WA’s new laws to go to court to claim damages for alleged historic child sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers.
Paul Bradshaw, 74, has only weeks to live and will spend some of that time describing in court how he was the victim of horrific treatment as a boy at Castledare Junior Orphanage and then St Vincent’s Orphanage at Clontarf.
His case against the Trustees of the Christian Brothers will be the first to be heard since WA lifted the time restriction on claims for damages against child abuse perpetrators. It has been fast-tracked because Mr Bradshaw’s prostate cancer is killing him.
Before he dies, he is determined to finally get justice for the treatment allegedly meted out by three Christian Brothers — brothers Lawrence Murphy, Bruno Doyle and Christopher Angus — in the 1950s and 60s.
Mr Bradshaw has been a long-time campaigner for children abused at church-run institutions, even confronting former premier Colin Barnett in 2009 over his government’s decision to halve the maximum amount payable to victims through Redress WA.
Now, he will confront long-held demons from his school days by telling his story before a judge in the District Court.
“I have been trying since I was 16 for justice and every time I think I am going to get it, it dies on me,” Mr Bradshaw said.
“If I can get justice before I die, I will be happy. I don’t mind being first — because the sexual abuse has been in my head all my life.”
Lawyer Michael Magazanik, from Rightside Legal in Melbourne, has fought to bring the case on quickly because of Mr Bradshaw’s ailing health.
“This was a crime on a massive scale,” Mr Magazanik said.
“The Brothers have never faced up to that. Instead they made it worse with years of legal bullying, technical defences and pitiful compensation.
“Now it is reckoning time for the Brothers. The children whose lives they damaged may be elderly men but they’re angry and determined and they’re coming for justice.”