The black-haired man with sparkling eyes sat nervously in the witness stand, his voice faltering as he tried to count the cost to his life and his family of years of ''dreadful'' sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when he was a boy.
By the time he was finished the courtroom wept with him - at the bar table, in the public gallery, in the media seats. Applause first rippled then resounded through the room.
Here, in the eighth week of hearings at the Newcastle Supreme Court, was the first victim to give public evidence at the state government inquiry into alleged church and police cover-ups of sexual abuse in the Hunter Valley.
Now in his late 30s, the man known to the inquiry as AH said he had been "an innocent little kid with a big hope for the future" when Father James Fletcher began sexually abusing him.
Fletcher was convicted of the abuse in 2004 and died in jail in 2006.
The abuse left his victim feeling as an adult that he was "just stuffing up my life". AH eyeballed his younger brothers, there in the court to support him with his mother and father, and confessed he was sometimes jealous of them.
"I am so many years behind everyone else due to the abuse. I love my brothers, you have all got good jobs … It is the nature of brothers, I just look at you and feel I should be in front of you."
He has left the Hunter because,
he said, ''the memories are too much and the bastardisation from some elements of the community is very much alive and kicking''.
He now has an office job in the finance industry. In the six months since the NSW inquiry and the separate royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse were announced, strangers have sent him flowers at work and "completely random people have been divulging abuse they have endured".
AH said he asked himself how his life might have been different: "If they [the church] had done something about Fletcher years ago instead of moving him around, would he have got to me?
"Would I have continued on with my cricket and be playing in the Ashes this year?'' (They could do with some help, he joked.)
"Would I have gone to uni? I tried. Would I have completed a degree? I should have. Would I have had a better or different relationship with my partner?"
AH praised police whistleblower Peter Fox who took his statement. It took 11 months: "I had no idea it would be so hard to get the words out."
AH, who said his mother had written a book about the effects on his life of the abuse, gave permission for his photograph to be published, even though his name is subject to a non-publication order at the inquiry.
He said he wanted that ''the right people be made accountable for how abuse has been handled or covered up''. The breach of trust he experienced at the hands of the Catholic Church would affect him forever, he said.
"The priest James Fletcher did a terrible job on me but I expected when I finally got the courage to tell someone about it, the church would not let me down and they would do the right thing."
But that's not how it happened, according to his statement. "I believe they put more effort into damage control than into caring for me," he said.
AH said he had tried to block out the memories but had been tormented by shame, anger and embarrassment. After Fletcher's trial ''I picked myself up and attempted to move on in life''.
He thanked Commissioner Margaret Cunneen, SC, several times for the inquiry, though he said it had been hard to see his life played out again.
As he went to leave the witness box, she called him back. "You must always remember, no shame attaches to you," she said. His courage had placed the shame "squarely where it belongs", she said.