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A former Victorian rail official used young boys' "interest in all things railway" to lure them into his care, then sexually abuse them.
Robert Whitehead, 84, was a government rail worker and a volunteer with the heritage steam train Puffing Billy when he assaulted six young train enthusiasts in the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
In four instances, he used a ruse of an "initiation procedure" to carry out his abuse.
On other occasions he resorted to coercion and violence.
Whitehead told one victim if he reported the abuse to police, he would not be allowed to return to Puffing Billy.
In sentencing him to at least four and a half years jail on Friday, Victorian County Court Judge Michael Tinney said Whitehead played on that boy's love of trains and his ability to limit access to silence him.
"These boys came into your domain as they had what was a common boyish interest in ... all things railway," Judge Tinney said.
"These boys would have looked up to you, they would have been impressed by your connection to their hobby and interest."
Judge Tinney said despite Whitehead's plea of guilty to 24 charges, including two counts of sexual penetration of a person aged under 16, he saw no evidence of remorse from the man who had been prepared to "debauch and exploit" children.
"What you did to these boys was seriously criminal. It was seriously wrong. It was unforgivable."
Judge Tinney said he felt "utter dismay" that Whitehead was re-employed as a government rail worker after being convicted and jailed of child sex abuse in 1959.
Whitehead had left in his wake "a trail of human wreckage", Judge Tinney said.
One victim who dreamed of being an engine driver changed his mind after Whitehead's assault, according to his victim impact statement.
Another, who reported the abuse to police in 1985, was made to feel as if he was a liar and at fault after Whitehead denied the allegations.
A third described how he developed a fear of adults and lost his interest in trains.
"You ruined his hobby," Judge Tinney said.
Whitehead was jailed for eight years and eight months with a non-parole period of four years and six months.
Judge Tinney said the former rail worker may very well die in jail.
"Your past has now caught up with you," he said.
© AAP 2015
This article first appeared on www.9news.com.au
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