Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

How child abuser Robert Burrett's crimes tore a family apart: 's victims slams sentence

The father of one of child rapist Robert Selwyn Burrett's young victims says she is "coming through it slowly" with counselling, but fears it will affect her relationships in the long term.

School bus driver and caretaker Burrett was yesterday sentenced to 19-and-a-half years in jail with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years at the High Court at Christchurch.

The 64-year-old grandfather admitted 21 abuse charges relating to 12 young victims, including rape, sodomy, forced oral sex, indecent assaults, video-taping of the offending, and watching pornography, often in his underground caretaker's shed.

READ MORE: Dark past of a playground predator

The shocking case has prompted the Ministry of Education and Education Council to investigate extending their powers to all people who work with children in schools.

Today, an emotional father phoned Newstalk ZB's Canterbury Mornings with Chris Lynch radio show to give a harrowing account of effect the abuse has had on his daughter.

He said his daughter was getting counselling and "coming through it slowly", but was under no illusions that it will take a long time.

The father feared it could affect her relationships later in life, and make her "very careful".

He slammed the sentence for being too lenient, given the damage Burrett has done to his daughter, and cost him his marriage.

"It has broke us up," said the man, fighting back tears.

"And the trauma that my daughter's going through now is not funny."

Burrett's sexual abuse of his daughter only came to light when a police officer knocked on his door last June, the man said.

"He said there had been a few cases at the school of children being interfered with," the caller said.

"At that time we knew nothing about all the other schools he had been at - or the bus driving."

He was surprised that given Burrett's past, more wasn't done to prevent him from working at schools.

But he didn't blame the school or the police.

He did however worry that there were more victims of Burrett who are yet to come forward.

Burrett had been forced from two schools in the North Island as principal and deputy principal after complaints about his incompetent and concerning teaching methods, preyed on young girls aged between 5 and 12.

He taught for more than 40 years in schools across the country, before becoming a tutor, relief teacher and bus driver.

Burrett, who has two drink driving convictions in 2001 and 2007, was employed as a part-time caretaker at a Canterbury school from the beginning of 2013, after having been a casual relief teacher.

Alongside that job, he was also employed as a bus driver transporting special needs pupils from their homes to school.

All of the pupils he drove attended primary school and had some form of disability that affected either their communication and/or physical and mental functioning.

Between February 1, 2013, and February 23, 2015, he sexually abused 12 girls, aged between 5 and 12, in one of the worst cases of child sex abuse New Zealand has ever seen.

- NZ Herald

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