A RETIRED teacher awaiting sentencing for sexually abusing several young girls more than 40 years ago has withdrawn his bid for bail despite his solicitor arguing his health was rapidly deteriorating in jail.
John G Ferris was due to be sentenced this month for a string of child sex offences committed while he was a teacher at Ben Venue Public School in the 1960s and 70s, but the case has been adjourned again.
Ferris, who is being held in maximum custody at Cessnock Correctional Centre, appeared in Armidale District Court on Tuesday where the sentencing hearing was delayed for at least a further seven weeks.
Barrister Sue Cluss sought to bring on a bail application for her client arguing the length of time in custody was having a significant impact on Ferris' ill health.
"He's 78-years-old, his health is deteriorating at such a rate, and we are ... very concerned that he will not survive in those conditions," she said.
"It is that significant."
Ferris has been behind bars since January when he pleaded guilty to dozens of offences against young girls on schools grounds and in a home, several decades ago.
The sentencing hearing is expected to take up to two days as eight victims give victim impact statements to the court, including one victim who was present in court yesterday.
But the trial schedule wouldn't allow for the hearing in this sittings, with the court considering moving it to Sydney to seek a date in June or even October.
"I'm saying it's not ideal, it's far from ideal," Judge Deborah Payne said.
"He's got to be sentenced, he's going to jail, I would have thought."
Ferris was due to appear in the dock but the court heard Corrective Services were unable to transport him to Armidale because of a medical issue.
"There were problems holding him at Tamworth Correctional Centre," Judge Payne said.
Ms Cluss said it wasn't inevitable that her client would receive a jail term.
"These matters are extremely old," she argued.
"These matters date back to the seventies ... when the maximum penalty were seven years."
But Crown prosecutor Jon Baxter-Wright argued two of the offences carried a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison and said in the Crown's view, Ferris was "looking at a significant custodial sentence"
"The Crown's position is that any bail application is strenuously opposed," he told the court.
"The Crown's view is that he's looking at a sentence beyond October in any event."
The bail application was not heard and Judge Payne formally refused bail, adjourning the sentencing to a date in May.
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