Dennis John McKenna

Address: Perth, WA, Australia
Age: 68
Sex: Male


Date: 18 February 2013
Charges: Sexual abuse of minors
Category: Paedophilia
Court: Perth District Court
Judge: Judge Sleight
Penalty: 22 years jail eligible for parole in 2024

WA's worst paedophile

Dennis John McKenna abused his position as warden of a Katanning hostel to treat the boarding house as a "sexual smorgasbord" and commit a staggering number of offences against the children in his care, a District Court judge said as he sentenced the serial paedophile to another nine years behind bars on 18 February 2013.

Describing McKenna's case as unprecedented in WA in terms of the number of offences and victims, Judge Kevin Sleight said McKenna had abused his position of trust and manipulated his boarders to keep his vile behaviour secret for so many years.

"It is staggering that you were able to get away with your sexual abuse against so many children over such a long period of time," Judge Sleight said.

Victims and their supporters filled the public gallery, many shedding tears as Judge Sleight outlined the details of McKenna's catalogue of 34 sex offences committed against 17 boarders while he was warden of the St Andrew's Hostel hostel between 1976 and 1988.

Asked by Judge Sleight to "keep their emotions in check", there were audible groans of disbelief as McKenna's remorse was described to the court and some of those watching shouted "dog" as he was led from the dock.

McKenna, a warden of the hostel between 1975 and 1990, pleaded guilty to the 34 offences in October 2012 after negotiations with State prosecutors led to another 35 charges being dropped.

Imposing the total sentence of nine years, Judge Sleight said the jail terms had to reflect sentences previously imposed for sexual abuse against other boarders at the hostel.

McKenna was sentenced to more than six years jail in 1991 for 19 offences committed against five victims.

In 2011, he was sentenced to six years and four months jail for 10 offences committed against 6 male boarders.

Judge Sleight said in total, McKenna had been sentenced to 22 years jail for his sexual abuse of teenage boys at the State-run hostel.

Noting that the enormity of McKenna's offending had led to an inquiry into the Katanning hostel, Judge Sleight said his behaviour was aggravated by his abuse of his position of trust and his manipulation and emotional blackmail of students.

He said McKenna had displayed arrogance and confidence in believing that because of his standing in the community, any complaint against him would not be believed.

But Judge Sleight also accepted a psychiatric report which deemed McKenna at a low risk of re-offending, taking into account McKenna's age and lack of offending since 1991.

Judge Sleight, who reduced each jail term by 25 per cent in recognition of the pleas of guilty, also took into account McKenna's remorse.

"Your remorse, however, has been a long time coming," he said.

Under the sentence structured by Judge Sleight, McKenna will serve a total of 13 years and four months from the time he was jailed in 2011. He will be eligible for parole in 11 years.

Outside court, McKenna's victims spoke of their lifelong sentence as a result of their abuse and disbelief at his claims of remorse.

"I am scarred for life," one man said.