Trevor Garland remains under police custody
By LYNNISSHA RUNA
A 24-year-old man the country’s former honorary consul in Sydney Sir Trevor Garland is alleged to have sexually assaulted is a Solomon Islander.
That’s according to Australian police documents tendered in a Sydney court, Friday.
Police arrested Garland, 62, last Thursday in Sydney and charged him with four counts of aggravated sexual assault.
He remained under police custody and is expected to lodge a bail application when his case returns to court, on Tuesday.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported the victim in this case was a patient from Solomon Islands he was helping look after as part of a 10-bed program with St. Vincent Hospital.
The alleged abuse of power came three years after Garland had his role terminated by the Australian government because he failed to meet good character requirements.
Garland appeared before the Central Local Court on Friday via videolink, shaking and sighing repeatedly, wearing an un-tucked white shirt.
Police have arrested him after he attended Kings Cross Police Station about 9am on Thursday, charging him with four counts of aggravated sexual assault of a 24-year-old man “under authority of offender”.
The alleged attacks took place on four separate days between March and April last year at Garland’s historic home, “The Oaks” at Oakhurst in Sydney’s west, police said.
Detectives from Strike Force Moorooba raided the Victorian mansion on Thursday, seizing “a number of items”.
Garland, knighted by Prince Charles in 2010 for his services to the Solomon Islands, was also charged with two counts of illegally accessing medical records of a St Vincent’s patient on January 15 from a computer at his home.
The alleged victim of the sexual assaults was a patient in the “10 bed” program that has brought gravely ill Solomon Islands residents to Sydney for free treatment each year.
St Vincent’s Hospital said it had taken “immediate steps to ensure the safety of our patients” and banned Garland from entering hospital grounds.
“Garland is not an employee of St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney and does not act on the hospital’s behalf in any capacity,” a spokeswoman said.
“Garland was appointed by the Solomon Islands Government and its High Commission in Australia to provide out-of-hospital support to islanders participating in the St Vincent’s-Solomon Islands tertiary patients referral program.
“The Solomon Islands government is responsible for overseeing the activities of this role.”
The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in a statement Sir Trevor “has never been employed by DFAT or represented Australia in any diplomatic capacity”.
However, honorary consuls require approval from the department and the Herald understands it terminated his on character grounds in 2014.
On Friday afternoon, prosecutors opposed bail and said Garland had been on parole at the time of the alleged offences.
The nature of those offences could not be confirmed.
His barrister, Richard Battley, had sought Garland’s release but said he was unaware of any parole term.
Battley urged the magistrate to factor in his client’s medical condition, saying Garland had been taken to hospital on Thursday night before being taken to Surry Hills Police Station.
A friend of Garland’s, Susan Merrell, speaking outside court, said she did not believe the allegations as he was a “gentle, kind, compassionate” man.
She also described him as deeply unwell, suffering from a “neurological condition”, possibly Parkinson’s disease.
The court file coversheet referred to a medical assessment for Parkinson’s.
An honorary consul for nearly 20 years, Garland was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1991 and has received other recognition such as the Cross of the Solomon Islands in 2009.
It’s understood Garland used to work in Solomon Islands as a doctor in the early 1980s.
Latest reports suggest he was not a qualified doctor, just a nurse.