Ex-students call for justice after sex offender avoids jail
FORMER Dominic College students have called on the Crown to appeal the fully-suspended jail sentence handed to an obese paedophile teacher considered too sick to face justice.
The group has even offered to raise up to $40,000 for a specialised medical aircraft to extradite Peter John O'Neill from Canberra, where he now resides, back to Hobart.
On Wednesday, the former Dominic College, Burnie High School and St Virgil's College teacher was sentenced via telephone to a five-year suspended term after extradition plans fell flat due to enormous costs and the impacts of COVID-19 restrictions.
"Why has he been given a suspended sentence? A sentence that lets him live in comfort in Canberra?" one former student, who can't be named for legal reasons, said.
"The community wants people like O'Neill in jail. The cost of his crimes has been huge. Our suffering, the harm to our mental health, is immeasurable.
"It would cost (up to) $40,000 to transport the obese abuser to Tasmania. We, his victims, are willing to raise that transport cost so this man has to face us and then serve his just punishment.
"The DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) must appeal against this sentence, which gives no resolution to the victims of this evil man's crimes."
Another former student took to Facebook to encourage other alumni to pressure the state government over its "failure to bring this paedophile to Tasmania".
"So he's gotten away with abusing kids and ruining their lives. Piece of s***. Can they appeal?" another woman said.
"The system is so broke (sic) due to politics and money. If you are worthy of prison you should serve time no matter the cost to society. In this case it is in the public's interest to spend the extra $ to incarcerate this evil man," another man said.
Rachel Grguervic, who left Dominic in 1989, said she was disgusted to hear O'Neill - who she said emotionally abused her at school - wouldn't be jailed.
"It's a crock because there's just no reason why he isn't getting put into a prison," she said.
While sentencing on Wednesday, Chief Justice Alan Blow noted one of O'Neill's victims had died, one had attempted suicide and had been admitted to psychiatric hospitals more than 50 times, one had been to prison, and most of them had required professional psychological help.
But he said the 140kg abuser was too sick to travel to Tasmania given his range of medical conditions including spinal stenosis.
"Although I cannot impose the punishment that Mr O'Neill deserves, it is worth observing that because of his immobility, his incontinence, his pain problems and his other medical symptoms, his life now is probably far more miserable than the lives of most prisoners," the judge said.
O'Neill had pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault and one count of penetrative sexual abuse of a young person relating to six children during the 1980s.
Criminal appeals must be lodged within 14 days of sentencing.
Attorney-General Elise Archer said she acknowledged the "immense courage" of survivors in coming forward to seek justice, but that it was not appropriate for her to intervene - noting the decision-making independence of the DPP.
The DPP was also contacted for comment.
Originally published as 'It's a crock': Ex-students call for justice after paedophile avoids jail