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WA counsellor jailed for child sex abuse

A former youth counsellor who sexually abused seven troubled boys in his care 25 years ago has been jailed for almost 10 years.

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Allan Keith Huggins, 68, was convicted after a trial in the West Australian District Court earlier this year found him guilty of 16 offences committed in 1990 and 1991.

Most of the offences occurred when he was an education officer at the Warminda school-to-work program, while one victim was a client of his private counselling business.

During sentencing of the father-of-three in Perth on Friday, prosecutor Bernard Standish said the offending was a gross breach of trust against vulnerable victims who society had already let down.

“This is one of the most egregious examples of serious sexual offending in this state,” Mr Standish said.

“He has offended against a multitude of people.”

Defence lawyer William Chesnutt argued there was no need for personal deterrence to be reflected in the sentence because his client had been rehabilitated.

However, Judge Troy Denise Sweeney said his rehabilitation was “not exceptional” and Huggins had a remaining lack of insight into his offending.

He had shown no remorse, continued to have a dysfunctional attitude towards young boys and had already flagged he would appeal, she said.

Judge Sweeney said Huggins had been sexually abused in his youth by other children, which he had not found unpleasant, and that had distorted his views.

The court heard that most of the victims, who felt at the time they would not be believed, suffered from behavioural and substance abuse problems, and several had tried to take their own lives, with only one of them now holding down a good job.

Some had already been sexually abused before going to Warminda.

They had been “easy pickings” for Huggins, who had groomed the boys with massages that he described as a “relaxation program” but ended in the much older man touching their buttocks and molesting them, Judge Sweeney said.

In another case, he went into the photographic darkroom and forced a boy to give him oral sex, with the victim believing he had to do what he was told.

“They were painfully aware that any complaint on their part would be seen as troublemaking,” Judge Sweeney said.

“You knew they were not the type of kids people would trust over you.”

One of the victims, Rob McAuley, said his complaint about Huggins in 1991 was not followed up.

After Judge Sweeney handed Huggins a nine year and three month jail term, he shouted it was a miscarriage of justice.

Several victims responded from the public gallery: “F*** off, Allan” and “bye bye”.

Mr McAuley said he hoped Huggins would get a tougher sentence if he followed through with an appeal.

He said he had “a little” closure from the sentence.

Huggins will be eligible for parole after serving seven years and three months behind bars.

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