A private investigator paid for by the Christian Brothers to track down victims of paedophile Brother Edward Dowlan confronted victims in their homes and told lawyers they could “easily be torn down in the witness box".
Former Christian Brothers Provincial leader Brother Brian Brandon admitted to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse the province paid solicitors in 1995 who hired a private investigator, Glynis McNeight, to gather information about Dowlan’s victims.
Ms McNeight was allegedly paid more than $7000 for her services. The inquiry heard Ms McNeight tried to contact police to gain information about victims, including their addresses and telephone numbers. She also tracked down some victims and attempted to interview them in their homes.
In a report handed to the Christian Brothers she revealed she confronted one of the victims at his home and described him as a witness whose credibility could be easily broken.
"The person himself is a very nervous, excitable type who will reduce to tears and bad language easily," she wrote. "He has had enormous emotional problems his whole life." The victim followed McNeight to her car and became visibly upset.
He began to cry and wiped his eyes with his shirt when he asked her how she had found him, the inquiry heard.
In another incident, Ms McNeight tracked down a victim and described them as somebody who could be "easily torn apart in the witness box" in her report to lawyers.
A police in charge of Dowlan’s investigation warned her to stay away from victims because she was perverting the course of justice.
Br Brandon told the commission the investigator was part of a legal strategy adopted by Dowlan's solicitors for his defence.
He said after he received reports including personal details of victims, he found the strategy to be "intrusive" and "hurtful".
"I would like to say to any who is present were subjected to this undue stress in this process I'm sorry such a strategy was adopted,” he said.
He said Dowlan, who changed his name to Ted Bales after being charged, was a "very simple man intellectually" who was finding it difficult to cope with the legal proceedings.
He told the inquiry he never asked Dowlan if he was guilty of the child sex charges he was facing.
Br Brandon denied he was in charge of Dowlan's legal proceedings despite his role as as provincial leader at the time requiring him to manage civil and criminal proceedings affecting brothers.
The inquiry also heard two St Patrick's College brothers who were sexually abused by Dowlan received payouts from the Christian Brothers signed off Br Brandon.
“He (Br Brandon) said we did not deserve this money and that the deed of release was to be “the end of it”, Victim BAC said in a statement.
However, Br Brandon said his recollection was that he meant the boys did not deserve the abuse they’d been subjected to.