Remorse and regret from principal who failed to protect

FORMER Toowoomba primary school principal Terence Michael Hayes gave the first indication of regret and remorse over his failure to protect young children under his care.

Mr Hayes, in an emotional statement, told the commission on Wednesday  on several occasions he had reflected on the events which occurred in 2007 and 2008 where 13 girls at the school were sexually abused at the hands of veteran teacher Gerard Vincent Byrnes.

"At all times in the last six or seven years what I have never forgotten is the tragedy, the victims and the families themselves," he said.

"My concern, whilst it has been very raw for me, is that I have never been able to forget about it.

"I have been very consistent in all those matters and my central emotion is those children and their families."

Daughter became introverted and withdrawn after abuse

Mr Hayes told the commission he knew every child at his former school in Toowoomba.

"I knew 90% of parents by first name and so that catastrophic situation that happened, all of what happen in the last six years, has been central to me," he said.

"But, I have never forgotten where the real pain lies."

Mr Hayes broke down at the end of two days of gruelling questions which revealed his failures as a principal to protect his students.

"It is an oversight that I find very hard to come to terms with," he said.

"It brings a lot of hurt to me and my family and life has changed.

"Though I am upset now, it is nothing like the pain I feel for the victims and their families."


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