Former Aboriginal services chief deemed 'risk' to children in 2003

STRICT BAIL: Steven Larkins.
STRICT BAIL: Steven Larkins.

THE former chief executive officer of Hunter Aboriginal Children's Services was deemed a "medium risk" to children in 2003, but continued to work with minors and deceive a number of organisations by forging documents, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday.

Steven Andrew Larkins, 45, was accused of molesting an 11-year-old boy while he was a scout master with the 2nd Newcastle Scout Group in 1997, a police statement said.

Mr Larkins denied the allegations, but he was served with an apprehended violence order and told that he would receive a summons for a charge of aggravated indecent assault. The case never proceeded to trial.

When mandatory child protection checks came into effect in 2001, Mr Larkins submitted his application with the Department of Community Services' screening unit in 2003, the statement said.

A background check on Mr Larkins received a "hit" and he was told he was a "medium risk" and was not cleared to work unsupervised with children.

Mr Larkins never disclosed this to the board or other managers at Hunter Aboriginal Children's Services, but he made two attempts to have his classification reviewed, the statement said.

In those applications he allegedly made fraudulent claims such as "That on no occasion have I been approached by the NSW Police to be charged or to appear in court on any charge of any kind" and "I am not the person with this record".

He is also accused of creating a document that stated he had clearance to work with children and placed it with his personnel file, the statement said.

Mr Larkins also prepared two statutory declarations that stated he had never appeared "in court in relation to any charge made on me" and another stating that he had no contact with children in his role as chief executive officer.

Police alleged that both claims were false.

Mr Larkins was arrested yesterday and charged with 17 offences in addition to charges of possessing child pornography that he has been on bail for since April.

Police have subsequently found 64 child pornography images on computers and other devices that were seized from Mr Larkins' Mayfield home, a police statement said.

Mr Larkins did not enter pleas yesterday. Magistrate Mark Buscombe granted him strict bail and adjourned the case for two weeks.