CYF caregiver jailed for horrific sex abuse

CYF caregiver jailed for horrific sex abuse

Labelled the country's worst sex offender, Timaru man Frank Walmsley has been jailed for 22 years on 52 charges of sexual abuse.

Walmsley, a former Child, Youth and Family (CYF) caregiver, was found guilty on the charges of sexual abuse in April, which included 12 counts of rape against eight teenagers.

The 57-year-old was at Timaru High Court on Friday morning to hear his sentence, along with a public gallery filled with the victims and their families. He has a minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

The offending occurred while Walmsley was running the Oamaru CYF home between 1995 and 2000. The Sensible Sentencing Trust (SST) labelled him New Zealand's worst sex offender.

Victim Impact statements

A victim impact statement was read out in court by a woman who said she went to Walmsley for support after being bullied at school, before he raped her.

She said she would cry herself to sleep and Walmsley told her no one would believe her if she spoke out against the abuse.

"I sometimes wonder what it'll be like when everyone goes on with their lives, how I will cope being alone."

Another victim wiped away tears as she told the court Walmsley has "destroyed her life". She was 12 years old when the abuse happened and lived under Walmsley's care for six to eight months.

"He treated me like a piece of meat".

An impact statement was read out by a police representative on behalf of another woman who still has flashbacks of the abuse, but is relieved Walmsley  is "getting what he deserves".

A male victim says he hated living at the CYF house and the fear he felt was "another level of scared". He ran away from the house repeatedly, but the police always took him back. 

He said giving evidence against Walmsley was the hardest thing he had ever done.

"I could never work out why he did it to me," he said, "He used to tell me I'd never be a man."

Crown prosecutor: 'Breach of trust' 

Crown prosecutor Andrew McRae called the scale of offending "significant" and "pre-meditated". He said Walmsley's offending was worse than the Christchurch school caretaker case, where Robert Selwyn Burrett abused young school girls in a shed, some of whom had mental disabilities.

"The defendant as a CYF's worker was trusted to look after these vulnerable individuals," Mr McRae says, "the breach of trust is at the highest level."

"There [are] on-going effects for all these complainants as a result of this offending."

The Crown sought a sentence between 24 and 26 years.

Mr McRae says the offending occurred over such a lengthy period and he had a "façade" which fooled a lot of people.

Defence counsel Craig Ruane says the offending was "opportunistic" rather than pre-meditated. He says Walmsley should be given credit for what has otherwise been a productive life involved in community groups, sports groups and charities.

Frank Walmsley at the Timaru High Court (Newshub.)

'Brazen and well-planned' - Justice Gendall

Justice David Gendall said it's clear Walmsley's offending has haunted his victims lives and caused "irreversible trauma".

"Instead of caring for them you exacerbated their problems for your own sexual gratification."

Justice Gendall didn't think the offending was quite as bad as Burrett, and thought 22 years was appropriate.

Walmsley showed a sense of entitlement, Justice Gendall said, and has continued to deny his offending.

"Offending such as this sends a ripple through our community, it is devastating for the victims and their families."

Walmsley showed no emotion throughout the sentencing. He will be 67 before he is eligible for parole.

CYF's response

CYF has issued a public apology and says it's "abhorrent" such abuse was carried out at one of its homes.

The agency say Walmsley not only betrayed its trust and that of the young people it abused, but he has also damaged the reputation of CYF caregivers.

"We are truly sorry about what happened to these young people," CYF deputy chief executive Viv Rickard said.

"Every child deserves to be in a place where they feel safe and are able to thrive."