Puffing Billy train enthusiast molested young boys
A Puffing Billy volunteer who sexually abused two young train enthusiasts has been sentenced to prison time but is unlikely to serve a day.
Anthony Hutchins was sentenced to two years and nine months behind bars after he admitted abusing the 12-year-old boys in the 1970s.
Victorian County Court Judge Trevor Wraight agreed to wholly suspend the prison sentence for the 81-year-old, who has a lengthy list of physical ailments and a limited life expectancy.
Hutchins has already spent time behind bars for sexually abusing boys and the judge described that experience in the 1980s as having a profound impact on him.
He has not offended since.
The latest charges relate to abusing one boy over four years, starting when he was 12.
He was a train enthusiast and was encouraged by Hutchins to volunteer at Puffing Billy, driving him to the heritage railway for track work and later to model train events.
He told the court he felt cheapened by memories that he now realises were efforts by Hutchins to groom him.
"As a child, what I thought of as friendship was actually grooming (and) transactional - you sought sexual gratification," he said.
The man said his suppression of what happened to him for so long left him with a distrust of most people, and he now questioned the sincerity of people trying to help him or love him, wondering what was in it for them.
He came forward in 2018 and Hutchins admitted what he had done when arrested and interviewed.
His lawyer told the court Hutchins didn't seek the man's forgiveness but wanted to offer a deep and genuine apology for the pain and suffering he caused.
Another man came forward in 2021 after seeing Hutchins' photo in reports about a Puffing Billy pedophile.
He was abused by Hutchins in 1979 after becoming a Puffing Billy volunteer at the encouragement of a teacher.
Catching the last train of the night toward Belgrave in Melbourne's east, he would secretly sleep in metropolitan train carriages so he could arrive early on Saturday and Sunday mornings to volunteer.
Hutchins offered him a key to a sleeper carriage instead and abused him inside one night.
The boy ran toward a nearby police station immediately afterwards but heard Hutchins approach in a vehicle.
He returned to the sleeper carriage, and was abused again by Hutchins.
Hutchins was arrested and declined to be interviewed over those offences.
He was previously sentenced to six years behind bars for sexual offending against boys but was released after serving less than the four-year minimum term imposed in 1987.
The court heard Hutchins is morbidly obese, is at high risk of falls, requires a walker, has undergone heart surgery, has leg ulcers, diabetes and arthritis and would need to be cared for in a nursing home if he was to have another catastrophic health issue.
The prison sentence was suspended for three years.
Hutchins will only serve jail time if he commits further offending.
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (for people aged 5 to 25)
National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028