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Once-happy bus driver appeals child indecency conviction

Former teacher and 'Happy Bus Driver' Murdoch appealed the child indecency conviction.
Former teacher and 'Happy Bus Driver' Murdoch appealed the child indecency conviction.

A WAVE of church sex abuse scandals means school record keeping will be under increasing scrutiny, a court has heard.

The issue was raised on Monday as disgraced 'Happy Bus Driver' John George Murdoch, who inspired a Facebook fan page before facing child indecency charges, took his case to the Court of Appeal.

Before his Brisbane bus driving career, Murdoch was a Toowoomba Catholic school teacher.

Last year, he was found guilty of indecently treating a child at that school in the mid-1990s.

Murdoch appealed the conviction.

This week, Brisbane Court of Appeal heard arguments about what evidence should have been admitted in Murdoch's trial.

Disputes emerged over whether school documents were "business records” admissible in a trial.

Murdoch resigned in 1996 after school authorities interviewed him.

But the file stayed with school records 17 years before being passed to police, the Toowomba Chronicle reported last year.

"Sexual impropriety at Catholic schools is a very hot topic,” Justice Philip Morrison said.

There was no doubt schools were now obliged to keep records about sexual misconduct complaints, he said.

But people in the '90s were probably not so mindful of record keeping obligations, or "systems in place for dealing with complaints,” Justice Morrison added.

"I suspect ... as more historic sex offences are prosecuted, this problem is going to come up more and more over the course of the coming months to years,” Murdoch's barrister Kylie Hillard said.

Murdoch denied five counts of indecently treating a boy under 16.

But he was found guilty of three charges, including playing a porn video while the boy was at his unit.

The jury also found Murdoch had the boy, then aged 12 or 13, run naked around an oval.

And Murdoch was found guilty of taking photos of the naked boy.

His jail term was suspended.

Prosecutor Glen Cash opposed the appeal. The appeal court reserved its decision.

Murdoch declined to comment outside court.

-NewsRegional

Topics:  bus driver catholic school john george murdoch justice philip morrison toowoomba


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