Toowoomba solicitor Leanne McDonald of Shine Lawyers.
Toowoomba solicitor Leanne McDonald of Shine Lawyers. Kevin Farmer

"Blood on his hands": Toowoomba lawyer represents Pell victim

TOOWOOMBA solicitor Leanne McDonald, who represents the father of one of Cardinal George Pell's victims, said the finding of guilt against one of Australia's highest-ranking Catholic was a win for all survivors of sexual abuse.

The Shine Lawyers solicitor said the father of the boy, who was 13 at the time of the alleged incident in Victoria in 1996, claimed Cardinal Pell had "blood on his hands".

Her client's son had since died of a drug overdose.

"It's common for survivors to turn to drug abuse," Mrs McDonald said.

"As children, they don't know what to do.

"We are representing the boy's father and trying to get some compensation for his suffering.

"One of the good things to come out of this is that people are talking about it now.

"Survivors can look at this (in the media) and know they are going to be believed.

"Even if someone (perpetrator) is high up in an organisation, survivors can look at this and know police do listen and action will be taken.

"People in the past didn't think they would be believed but now they can be assured that they will be believed."

A wife and mother of two young children, Mrs McDonald has a busy schedule with her case workload as well as working on the Annette Mason case in her spare time.

Annette Mason was murdered at the age of 15 in her then Anzac Ave home in Toowoomba in November 1989.

No-one has as yet been charged with the murder but Mrs McDonald and her team, who represent the Mason family, are hoping someone will be charged at the conclusion of a coroner's inquest which will be concluded in Brisbane later this year.

"It really is rewarding. I volunteered to do it on top of my other jobs," Mrs McDonald said.

"They're such a lovely family and it's good to help them get answers."

Mrs McDonald said she was lucky to have such a supportive husband and family which helped with her heavy schedule.

Having grown up in Toowoomba, she started at Shine Lawyers 20 years ago as an office junior.

"Mr (Kerry) Shine encouraged me to go into law.

"And working with survivors of sexual abuse is so important, they are so vulnerable.

"It's a great responsibility."
 



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