A prominent churchman was convicted in regional NSW and then he lost an appeal

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 13 April 2021)

Richard John McPhillamy has been a prominent layman in Catholic Church affairs in the diocese of Bathurst, in central-west New South Wales. He was formerly listed as an "acolyte", assisting in various matters at Bathurst's Cathedral of St Michael and St John. Also, he worked as an assistant dormitory master at St Stanislaus College — a Bathurst boarding school for boys. As a dormitory master at this school in the 1980s, Mr Rick McPhillamy had his own room in the "priests corridor", located near the Year Seven dormitory. (This school was conducted by the Catholic religious order of Vincentian priests and Brothers.) In 2011 and 2015, McPhillamy was convicted of committing sexual crimes against three of the boys who were under his control. McPhillamy appealed against these convictions but in 2017 his appeal was dismissed. In a magistrates court in April 2021, police filed some new charges against Phillamy

This Broken Rites article begins by reviewing the convictions in 2011 and 2015.

The first court case

In December 2008, Bathurst police charged McPhillamy with having committed child-sex offences at St Stanislaus College in the mid-1980s. In 2010, he faced jury proceedings in the New South Wales District Court.

McPhillamy pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and five of indecent assault, allegedly committed against two boys, aged 12 to 13,in the mid-1980s while he was working at the school.

The jury verdict was "Guilty" regarding both boys. In 2011 the judge sentenced McPhillamy to a minimum of 12 months jail.

Boy #1 in the 2010 trial

During the jury proceedings in 2010, the court was told that the first complainant was upset at becoming a boarder when he was only 12. McPhillamy "comforted" the boy and allowed him to sit on McPhillamy's bed to relax.

McPhillamy allegedly gave the boy a hug, using one hand to reach down and stroke the boy's genitals, the court heard.

The boy allegedly left the room, telling McPhillamy not to touch him and to leave him alone.

When the boy was 13, McPhillamy allegedly touched the naked boy who was drying himself in the shower block. The boy moved away and said: "F--k off, you dirty f--king perv, leave me alone."

A week later, the boy was hauled to the headmaster's office and was told that swearing at staff members ''wasn't tolerated'' at the school. The boy wanted to tell the headmaster the reason for the swearing but he was not given the opportunity. Instead, the boy was reprimanded for swearing at the staff member and was sent to be caned.

Boy #2 in the 2010 trial

The second pupil in the 2010 trial, an "extremely homesick" 13-year-old, was upset and did not want to return to the school following a weekend with his parents. McPhillamy allegedly took the boy to his private room and said he could make him feel better by giving him a massage. After massaging him on the neck and shoulders Mr McPhillamy allegedly worked his hands down the boy's back to his private parts.

Three charges related to McPhillamy allegedly straddling the boy to massage him before pushing his hands underneath him to touch the boy's genitals.

The court was also told that McPhillamy would talk to the boy about sex and masturbation.

On another occasion, when the boy fell asleep during a massage, he woke to find his penis being sucked by McPhillamy. The boy jumped up and left the room, and thereafter he avoided McPhillamy.

Further evidence in the 2010 cases

After McPhillamy's offences, the behaviour of both boys at school began to deteriorate and they were disciplined for it, the court was told.

The court heard that when police searched McPhillamy's home in December 2008, they found photographs of the two victims.

On McPhillamy's computer, the police found four images of child pornography. The prosecution argued that these images indicated McPhillamy's sexual interest in young boys.

Jailed in 2011

For sentencing purposes in 2011, the court dealt with the six charges in two batches:

  • On 10 March 2011, McPhillamy was sentenced to a minimum of six months behind bars.
  • On 10 June 2011, he was sentenced to an additional minimum of six months behind bars (to be served consecutively, making a total of at least 12 months in custody).

Convicted in 2015

On 13 February 2015, McPhillamy appeared before Judge King in the District Court, in Sydney's Downing Centre, after a jury returned a finding of guilty on six charges relating to a third boy. These incidents occurred in the 1990s. The jury found McPhillamy guilty of:

  • two counts of aggravated indecency (the victim was under 16 and under authority of  the offender),
  • two counts of aggravated indecent assault (victim under the age of 16 years), and
  • two counts of sexual intercourse (person 10 and under 16 - under authority - strictly indictable).

McPhillamy was refused bail and he was remanded in custody for sentence proceedings, scheduled for later in 2015. McPhillamy appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal in the Supreme Court to overturn his conviction but in 2017 the appeal court dismissed his appeal.

New charges in 2021

On 12 April 2021 in Bathurst Local Court, police filed some charges against McPhillamy. The charges relate to child sexual offences, allegedly committed by McPhillamy. Police Prosecutor Sergeant Aaron Burgess said McPhillamy’s charges relate to alleged incidents in 1986-1989. During the brief filing procedure, McPhillamy appeared by video-link. Magistrate Kevin Hockey adjourned the matter until an early date, so that McPhillamy and his legal adviser can consider how to respond to the charges.


When Richard John McPhillamy was charged in December 2008, the website of the Cathedral Parish of St Michael and St John in Bathurst was displaying a list of active parishioners who were in charge of various activities in the cathedral parish. The list included:
Acolytes - Rick McPhillamy

On 10 January 2010, before McPhillamy's trial, Broken Rites was still able to retrieve a cache of the same webpage (mentioning Rick McPhillamy and acolytes) via a Google search. However, another attempt to retrieve this webpage on 15 October 2010 (after the conviction) was unsuccessful.