Noel Greenaway – the evidence in his defence

The following excerpt from PRESUMPTION OF EVIL, Andrew L. Urban’s latest book, challenges Greenaway’s convictions for the sexual and physical abuse of teenage girls at Parramatta Girls Training School nearly half a century before the trial. 

There are not only glowing character references that sit out of sight of the jury, but the evidence of witnesses that challenge the claims of the accusers. In his closing address, Noel’s defence barrister, the eminent ‘old school’ silk Simon Harben SC, reminded the jury of that important evidence. It is worth quoting at some length:

HARBEN: A former inmate of Ormond was called, Sharon McDougall, and you may remember her evidence … she said that when she got to Ormond she was absolutely terrified and she described a process and this goes to systems of course, you’ve heard other evidence about this, that meeting with Mr Greenaway, having a chat as she called it, as to why she was there, about her family and how she felt about what she’d done.  Now, the importance of that isn’t just by the by, that’s an important reminder of the manner in which this new inmate described her first contact with the accused and you might think that that’s vastly different to what has been previously said about him in this Court.

She was then asked what she remembered about Mr Greenaway’s office and she said, “There was a big window that looked into ‑ it was like a central area in the facility, a huge, a big window at the side”.

Then she was asked whether she saw him from time to time and she said often, if he had to speak to the girls to be in trouble or when the girls were sitting in the green area he’d walk around, and she also said that he spoke to her from time to time and she was asked how she felt about that first meeting, and she said, “I think I felt a lot less scared, he was very calming.”

Now, bear in mind that this is a description of a terrified young girl, arriving at Ormond, that’s her first contact, that’s her first impression.  She was asked whether at any times did she get to observe him and she said yes, and she was asked this question, “What sort of observations were you able to make of him doing that, that is, dealing with the other girls who were in there?” and she said, “I was amazed because he never, he was never condescending towards the girls, never yelled at them, you know, always calm.

“Q.  Did you hear him reprimand people?” because you would appreciate it’s different when everything’s hunky‑dory and everything’s going along, but what about when you’re imposing discipline?  She said, “Yeah, yeah.”  “Q.  When he did that how did he appear?” and she used the word calm.

Now, it’s a matter for you of course how you use this evidence, but that is evidence from an inmate who was there at the time giving you her impressions and bearing in mind ‑ and could I just say this, I qualify this by reiterating what the Crown said to you in fairness, and what was put to I think each of the defence witnesses about everybody’s different.

Everybody interacts differently and we all know that from our own experience.  But until this point in the case, what was really being put was that there was a pervading sense at this institution to the point where people would not in the privacy of their dormitories or their private conversations say anything.  This evidence takes the long handle to that, and you’ll remember that there’s been evidence that would suggest very foul language is alleged against the accused.  She was asked this question, “When you heard Mr Greenaway dealing with people did you ever hear him swear?  A.  No, never.”

You remember that Margaret Wick was called and she was a part of the school and Ormond… she said that she’d had an opportunity to observe Mr Greenaway in his work, to observe him in his dealing with the girls and she described him as very fair; very courteous; very polite, respectful and when asked about adherence to the rules and whether that was a rigid adherence and she said very much so. … “The word around the traps was Greenie was fair but firm.”

Ms Thompson who was a social worker, amongst other things, said in terms of her observations of Mr Greenaway’s dealing with the girls, she said as well: “I always thought he was fairly firm but fair and had their interests at heart.  He would try and you know talk to them about issues that might have arisen in their family or something that happened in the institution.

Sharon Reedman also gave evidence, when asked to comment about what she remembered about the manner of dealing with inmates by the accused.  Her answer straight off, “Well it was never threatening, it was just, well, you did wrong, you’ve got to think about what you did and I’m taking your privileges away.  That was all, that was all it was about really.”

So, here it is, it’s being suggested that the slightest thing goes wrong, someone is dragged off to isolation in plain view of everybody for example, as opposed to what Ms Reedman tells you is what she describes her  observations of the reality of it, it was never threatening it was just, well, you did wrong, you’ve got to think about what you did and I’m taking your privileges away.  That was all, that was all it was about really.

We know that was part of the punishment regime, and we know that, now know as Ms Reedman said, that was the approach.  She then described it as like a second home, “I felt really safe there, better than what I felt on the outside world” and you might think well, that makes a lot of sense because a lot of these inmates that you have heard about in fairness to them, came from troubled backgrounds.

She was asked whether Mr Greenaway was around and about and whether she communicated with him and she said she did and he was.  And then she was asked did she approach him or did he approach you.  And she said, “I’d always approached him.”

“Q.  And when you approached him to speak to him what was his manner at that time?

Friendly, he was just a really, really nice man.  I always found him very easy to talk to.”

Did you ever him swear?

I never heard a bad word, swear word come out of his mouth.”

Now, she was asked about when she was leaving and says.  “Yes, I put my arms around Mr Greenaway’s waist and said, ‘thank you for looking after me dad’, as a joke and he put his hands on my shoulders and said, “Good, try and be good.”

” he was never physical with them and he was never abusive to them “

You heard from Jacqueline Maisey, now she was a youth worker, she was an employee … she worked in the cottage that held the worst behaved, for want of a better expression, inmates, so she’s on the ground giving observations not amongst the people who are never going to get into trouble, and it was put to her about ‑ you’ll remember when she was cross‑examined, it was along the lines of whether people move around in dormitories … she said from memory that not many people moved from hers and I assume that’s a reflection on their inability to behave sufficiently to earn the points to graduate.  But nevertheless, she’s there at the front line with these girls who are not behaving as well as they might have expected, so her observations are entirely apt.

She was asked whether she had an opportunity to observe Mr Greenaway interacting firstly with staff, other than herself and she did.  And when she was asked to make an observation about that interaction, she said, “Well, he was there always easy to approach.  He was polite, he treated all the staff with respect and I never heard any rumours or talk about him being otherwise.”  “Q.  And did you have an opportunity to see him interact with the girls, the inmates?  A.  Yes I did with that as well and it was pretty much the same.  He was always well spoken, he didn’t shout or yell.  He seemed to treat everybody with respect.  He could be very firm with the children”, again the institution, firm but fair, “but he was never physical with them and he was never abusive to them and I never heard him swear or talk inappropriately to them at all.”

Ms Maisey was on the ground and more to the point when she gave that evidence … but she wasn’t just a youth worker or a guard for want of a better term, she was their hairdresser, and they’re there getting their hair cut and they’re talking to her about all sorts of things.  So it’s a very positive dynamic producing a very positive response.

…when Betty Checkley gave evidence, you’ll remember she was the first witness we called, talking about talking to the girls about any issue that they wanted, “A.  Yes.  Q. And did they often engage willingly in that conversation?” and she says, “Very willingly”.  “Q.  Was that part of the rapport you built up with them do you say?” A.  Yes, so they felt free to talk about anything.”

Then you heard from Ms Thomson.  She was the social worker and she worked five days a week, so she’s there a lot.  Now her job ‑ we all know what a social worker does, she’s doing in effect, I won’t use the word counselling because that has a particular connotation in a sense, but she’s communicating as a social worker with the inmates, that’s her job.

She’s there five days a week doing it.  Not only that she’s there during visiting times.  Why?  Why would she be there in visiting times?  “Because to get to know the girls’ families, or if the girls wanted to talk to the family, to talk to me about anything.”  Now, looking back, this is not quite 55 years because she’s now talking about Ormond there, when you’re asked to consider, take your minds back through the journey back to the 70s, that’s undeniable evidence that you’re confronted with about it.  Here’s a real live witness telling this, “Just to get to know the girls’ families or if the girls wanted to talk to the family, to talk to me about anything.”

Imagine the concept of hiding things if you had that sort of check going.  If you had somebody on the ground who’s there so often getting the sense of what’s going on.

Her role was to support the girls, “I think really was to see them all when they came in, to interview them, to do a bit of getting to know you thing and then mostly operated on a self referral basis so if they had issues they wanted to talk to me about.  Sometimes staff would refer kids that they were concerned about.”

“There’s no corroboration for any of these allegations.”

That was the system in place.  Albeit it was an institution and albeit you’ve been told hang on, these are people who are all falling under the umbrella of the Child Welfare Department, you can’t expect the girls to speak to them, but we know from the evidence that you’ve heard that that’s not a blanket position, and the minute you get ‑ you accept that there’s communication to and fro, inmates, social worker, inmates, youth worker, inmate to inmate then you might think that the very real prospect that anything was going on, someone would be hearing from around the traps that all was not well, and from those witnesses that we called, there wasn’t a snippet, not at all.  Live witnesses sat here and told you that.

“The phrase ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ is not just a meaningless phrase.  There are holes in the Crown case, a lot of which I’ve outlined to you, in each instance, in relation to each complainant, demonstrated by objective evidence represented by the documents.  These allegations speak to a time so long ago, the difficulty of defending that is patent, so all of that has to be looked at in the context of what have we found out in these past three months, and the documents are a very important part of that.  They are matters, that documentary material, in relation to each of the complainants.  They objectively demonstrate the holes to which I refer.  There’s no corroboration for any of these allegations.

Defence counsel’s final remarks are of particular interest:

You’ve been told time and time again that, forget about the fact that no‑one complained to anyone else, unless it was somebody that we can no longer hear from, and I’m talking about employees now, Mrs Conley, Ms Baker, an unidentified person, and the reason was given to you for not complaining to them was that you didn’t trust anyone in authority.  You might think if that’s the case, what do I make of these so‑called complaints, but it’s more than that.  Think of the hundreds of girls that associated with one another during this period, and not a word was said.

You’ve seen the walk through conducted voluntarily by Mr Greenaway.  He gave evidence, he didn’t need to do that but he did.  There’s evidence called by the accused that goes to both character which is vitally important and what was happening, particularly at Ormond.  And when you go to reconcile what those witnesses describe about that institution, for example against what Ms Stacey would have you believe, they just can’t stand together.  They would support the proper submission I make to you that none of this happened.  That none of these offences were committed.  And bearing in mind where the burden never shifts from in this case, on each of the remaining counts, remember that four have already been disposed of in favour of the accused.  That the only logical verdict is an acquittal on each count.


The evidence from these witnesses constitutes the only independent evidence given at the trial.



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5 Responses to Noel Greenaway – the evidence in his defence

  1. D. Harris says:

    The comments. This site give me hope that my sons story may be told one day and receive the kind of investigation and comments that are offered by your contributors. Our story unfolded in a closed court. Began with a false series of allegations. A family with no prior interaction with the INJUSTICE system. Legal Aid appointed Solicitors and Barristers, Police tactics designed to scare off supporters and frighten the accused and family. After 12 years devoted to community service we as a family will not help anyone. We don’t even know where to start to appeal and our son is scared to have anymore of his life taken away from him. A case we were told “would not fly” went all the way and defence witness lists were ignored until the 3rd day of trial. No surprises that only one turned up.

    The judge derided that female witnesses as a lodger of sorts when she left the court. . She was in fact a runaway whom we took in and protected from a horrendous family situation. A friend of his that he wanted to help. It was clear that the judge thought a sexual relationship was on his mind.
    We expressed concern about this with Solicitor and said he and we plus his character was being judge already. They said oh that just his honour is like that he expresses thoughts out loud.
    His supporters gave references, offered testimony, still are beside him now 6 years later. He got 5 years jail, 15 years on the register. Can’t work due no police check and wwcc. The result are devastating.
    My warmest regards to those who try to help to bring equity back into.this horrendous system before to many more a permanently harmed.
    A disaster that was do unfair and unjust.

  2. Owen Allen says:

    One false allegation, is a false allegation. 2 false allegations, are false allegations. 3 false allegations, are false allegation. How many false allegations make a truth.
    When Police make false allegations and commit perjury, when Public Prosecutors commit perjury, and Magistrates and Judges are bias, what hope does anyone have?

    • Robert Greenshields says:

      Very true Owen, I witnessed exactly what you have stated within and during court proceedings at Gunnedah NSW. “You will not win here in Gunnedah” a respected local solicitor stated, “but you will win elsewhere”.
      A shocking but factually honest story that concluded with the Local Area Commander of policing saying, ” I have been trying to sort those bastards out there for years.”
      The very fact that most recent Coroners Inquiries, and the exposed behaviour of actual active policing officers has been headlining news services in the past few weeks, emphasises the magnitude of the problem Australia has been confronting for decades, and probably tens of decades.
      Institutional, cultural, in house venality, along with looking after mates over honesty, transparency, impartiality and a professional approach do not any where near an enabling and prosperous community make.

      • Robert Greenshields says:

        Apologies, the Superintendent of police, Oxley Area Commander, words were, “I have been trying to sort out those bastards out there for years “. Not the statement I originally posted.

  3. gail yvonne churchill says:

    I have worked with children while a nurse in a childrens psychiatric ward, where the child may well have been abused in the past, who went on to claim abuse in situations that may or may not have been abusive…….however one evening the patient claimed abuse overnight when it DEFINITELY WAS NOT SO…..having been alert for major issues overnight with the accused, I had spent all shift watching his room in case he needed my attention. The accusation has lead me to question all such claims.

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