No bail for teacher: Defence argues he may not survive; Crown says he’s going to jail anyway

STAYING PUT: John G Ferris, pictured when Armidale detectives raided his house in 2015, withdrew plans for a bail application ahead of sentencing. Photo: SuppliedA RETIRED teacher awaiting sentencing for sexually abusing several young girls more than 40 years ago has withdrawn his bid for bail, despite his solicitor arguing his health was rapidly deteriorating in jail.
Nanjing Night Net

John G Ferris was due to be sentenced this month for a string of child sex offences committed while he was a teacher at Ben Venue Public School in the 1960s and ’70s, but the case has been adjourned again.

Ferris, who is being held in maximum security at Cessnock Correctional Centre, appeared in Armidale District Court yesterday, where the sentencing hearing was delayed for at least a further seven weeks.

Barrister Sue Cluss sought to bring on a bail application for her client, arguing the length of time in custody was having a significant impact on Ferris’ health.

“He’s 78 years old, his health is deteriorating at such a rate, and we are … very concerned that he will not survive in those conditions,” she said.

“It is that significant.”

Ferris has been behind bars since January, when he pleaded guilty to dozens of offences against young girls on school grounds and in a home several decades ago.

BEHIND BARS: John Ferris outside of court in January before he was refused bail. Photo: Armidale Express

The sentencing hearing is expected to take up to two days, with eight victims to give victim impact statements to the court, including one victim who was present in court yesterday. But the trial schedule wouldn’t allow for the hearing in this sitting, with the court considering moving it to Sydney to seek a date in June or even October.

“I’m saying it’s not ideal, it’s far from ideal,” Judge Deborah Payne said.

“He’s got to be sentenced. He’s going to jail, I would have thought.”

Ferris was due to appear in the dock, but the court heard Corrective Services was unable to transport him to Armidale because of a medical issue.

“There were problems holding him at Tamworth Correctional Centre,” Judge Payne said.

“They just said he can’t physically come to Tamworth.”

Ms Cluss said it wasn’t inevitable that her client would receive a jail term.

“These matters are extremely old. These matters date back to the ’70s … when the maximum penalty was seven years.”

But Crown prosecutor Jon Baxter-Wright argued two of the offences carried a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison and they were pushing for a jail term.

“The Crown’s position is that any bail application is strenuously opposed,” he told the court.

“The Crown’s view is that he’s looking at a sentence beyond October in any event.”

Mr Baxter-Wright referenced a case in court of a paedophile Catholic priest jailed for nine years for less offences, and said in the Crown’s view, Ferris was “looking at a significant custodial sentence”.

“There are eight complainants, one of whom is in court,” he said.

“Of the eight complainants, two are local, some are in Melbourne, some in Queensland, some in Sydney.”

The bail application was not heard and Judge Payne said due process had to be followed and formally refused bail.

She ordered Ferris to remain in custody until a sentencing date is fixed at a callover in May.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Comments are closed.