Court holds firm on Roy 'Dootch' Kennedy’s child rape sentence

Kennedy, pictured at the Sandon Point embassy in 2007.
Kennedy, pictured at the Sandon Point embassy in 2007.

Aboriginal activist and convicted child rapist Roy Kennedy has had his prison sentence upheld on appeal. 

Kennedy challenged Judge Paul Conlon’s March 14, 2016 sentence on five grounds, including that the judge hadn’t given adequate weight to his remorse and contrition. 

He argued the judge hadn’t properly assessed the level of his criminality, claimed the sentence was ultimately excessive, and sought to withdraw his guilty plea to one of the charges. 

Kennedy subjected the girl to more than five years of physical and sexual abuse in the 1990s, leading to the birth of two children and a third pregnancy with twins, resulting in miscarriage.

The teen was compelled to lie about the identity of the father, with Kennedy encouraging her, during the first pregnancy, to make up a story that she’d gotten drunk at a party and had unprotected sex with a stranger.

Roy 'Dootch' Kennedy (right) arrives at Port Kembla Court in December 2014.

Roy 'Dootch' Kennedy (right) arrives at Port Kembla Court in December 2014.

Kennedy was ordered to spend 17 years behind bars, with a non-parole period of 12 years, for four counts of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent. 

In a decision handed down on Wednesday, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal on all grounds. The judges noted Kennedy had ultimately admitted to the girl’s relative that he fathered her children, and that he apologised to the victim about 10 years before the rapes were reported to police.

Kennedy also drew attention to some payments he made to the victim as a form of child support. The court did not accept this was a show of remorse. “The notion that paying some money for the children’s support … constituted remorse should be rejected. They were his children for whom he bore a very considerable responsibility,” Justice Davies said, in a written decision. 

Kennedy was introduced to Aboriginal activism in the 1980s and held elected positions on the Illawarra Aboriginal Land Council from 1985 to 1995. He rose to prominence as a founder of the Sandon Point Aboriginal Tent Embassy in 2000, and was later chairman of the influential Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council. 

During court proceedings he cited two life-changing events – a serious assault in 1985, in which he was set upon by a group of men – and the 1991 suicide of his brother Ernie, as major contributors to the breakdown of his marriage, his alcoholism and use of marijuana. 

In evidence, he said he felt deeply ashamed after hearing his adult victim read a victim impact statement.

In a report tendered to the court, a psychologist noted Kennedy continued to live at the Sandon Point tent embassy after he was charged, rarely leaving. When asked why, he told the psychologist, in a whisper, “too ashamed”. 

Kennedy will become eligible for parole on 18 February, 2028.