A self-styled “king of the kids” who sexually abused 13 young boys in WA’s Kimberley region over 16 years will likely die behind bars after being sentenced to 19 years in jail.
- Former school gardener John Melverne Bodey pleaded guilty to 57 charges
- He abused 13 boys between 1970 and 1986 at a range of Kimberley locations
- He will be eligible for parole in 2035 when he will be 93 years old
John Melverne Bodey, 78, met some of his victims through his work as a gardener at the high school in the town of Derby, and others through his heavy involvement in the local motocross club.
The boys abused were aged between about nine and 16, and in some instances the offences were committed against two of them at the same time.
Bodey had been due to stand trial in the WA District Court earlier this month, but he pleaded guilty to 57 offences on what was to be the first day of the three-week case.
The court was told Bodey was regarded by many in the local community as someone to be trusted, and some of the abuse happened when he took the boys on fishing and camping trips around the Kimberley.
He also abused victims at his home, where they would visit to look at motorbikes and cars he owned.
Some of them remembered him as a “very good storyteller”, but recounted how he abused them as they listened to his stories at night, while lying on a tarpaulin he had set up on a verandah.
Victim ‘flogged’ on pole for speaking out
Judge Troy Sweeney told Bodey he had made himself “the king of the kids” by paying attention to the victims and providing them with things young boys liked to do.
But she said he had breached their trust by offending against them in the most serious way, telling Bodey: “You were truly predatory.”
Judge Sweeney said while Bodey had appeared to some of his victims as charming, kind and caring, he was not because when they complained that what he was doing was hurting them, he continued.
He had also “flogged” one boy on a pole after he tried to warn others.
Some of the victims, who cannot be identified, provided statements to the court, with one saying it was not until the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 that he realised he needed help.
“After the terrorist attacks the people around me seemed to be able to go back to their normal life, but I had nightmares,” he said.
“I would wake up in the middle of the night thinking I was dead. I had shocking anxiety almost bordering on psychosis.
“That’s when I actually went and got help … as I understood there was a link between the abuse and how I processed and coped with traumatic events.
Other victims revealed the abuse had affected their ability to show affection to their own children and that they still had trouble getting to sleep at night because they kept thinking about what they could have done to stop the abuse.
Bodey will be 93 at earliest release date
Judge Sweeney said none of the symptoms the victims had suffered was unusual.
“You have caused a great deal of misery to your numerous victims” she told Bodey.
She said his guilty pleas had come at the last available opportunity and the victims had come to court on the day of the trial expecting to have to testify about their abuse, something she said would have caused them “great anxiety”.
Judge Sweeney accepted it was almost inevitable that Bodey would spend the rest of his life in prison, but said the offences were too serious for any “humanitarian consideration” of his advancing age.
Bodey will have to serve 17 years in jail before he can be released on parole.
He has been in custody since he was extradited from Queensland to face the charges in April 2018.
With time already served he will first be eligible for parole in 2035, at the age of 93.