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Police investigate BoysTown finances

Queensland Police have been called in to investigate suspicions of embezzlement from the BoysTown charity.

Concerns that a "substantial" amount may have been syphoned from its Link Up service in 1996-2001 were reported to detectives at Brisbane's Major Fraud Squad yesterday.

Former BoysTown head De La Salle Br Paul Smith (pictured) is believed to be embroiled in the scandal, along with a "small number" of other former staff.

Through his solicitor, Br Paul yesterday strenuously denied any wrongdoing, saying he had nothing to fear from any investigation.

He headed the Catholic institution for 19 years and stepped down last year for layman Chris Stoltz to take charge of its multimillion-dollar operation.

BoysTown founders the De La Salle Brothers decided to refer the matter to police after conducting an internal investigation and taking advice from a QC.

Fraud Squad Det Sgt Bernie Conroy yesterday confirmed police received the complaint involving a "substantial" amount, and said they would assess the claim before deciding whether to proceed with a full investigation.

The Auxiliary Provincial of the De La Salle Brothers in Australia, Ambrose Payne, flew to Brisbane from Sydney yesterday to give police audit information then brief staff at the Brisbane headquarters. He said the interests of BoysTown had to be put above those of any individuals.

Br Ambrose refused to reveal the amount of money believed to be missing. The brothers have pledged to cover any funds found to be unaccounted for.

"The investigation is not related to the operations of BoysTown Lotteries," Br Ambrose said, stressing that the lotteries, Link Up and Kids Helpline services operated separately.

Also in Queensland, a 17-year-old Brisbane boy, expelled for threatening a teacher, says he was angry because the teacher falsely accused him of being involved with drugs.

The boy's mother, Jennifer Brockie, 36, of the southeast Brisbane suburb of Marsden, said yesterday her son, a Year 11 student, had been treated unfairly and called for an investigation into St Francis College, a southside Catholic school.

The expulsion is believed to be the first from a Brisbane Catholic Education school for several years.

BCE documents allege that on August 29 Brendan entered a manual arts workshop class and began swearing at the teacher. He smashed his hand into the switch on a fan and demanded to know the whereabouts of another manual arts teacher, Mark Allen. At one point, Brendan allegedly turned to the teacher and said: "I am going to kill Mr Allen."

He said he had been searching for Mr Allen because he believed the teacher had implicated him in a drug bust at the school and he wanted to discuss the matter. Brendan said he had been near a student who was caught smoking marijuana by Mr Allen and that principal Chris Branson accused him of being involved.

BoysTown workers asked to explain records (7/8/02)
Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Brisbane
St Francis College


24 Sep 2002