Salvation Army member who led 'double life' jailed for child sex abuse over 27 years

Salvation Army member who led 'double life' jailed for child sex abuse over 27 years

Salvation Army member who led 'double life' jailed for child sex abuse over 27 years

Updated 30 June 2017, 15:35 AEST

A former respected Salvation Army church member who used a rented unit to sexually abuse children is jailed for three and half years for a range of offences that took place over almost three decades.

A former respected Salvation Army church member who led a "double life" has been sentenced to three and a half years' jail for child sex offences dating back decades.

William Edwin Steele, 73, was found guilty by a District Court jury of eight offences against five victims aged between 11 and 18.

They happened over a 27-year period from 1963 to 1990 at various locations, including a room at the back of a Salvation Army Church and in a fruit and vegetable market where Steele was a manager.

Two of the offences happened at a unit Steele rented in South Perth which he claimed he used as an office, but which neither his wife nor his work knew about.

Judge Ronald Birmingham said Steele's offences showed a "degree of perversion and deviance".

He said Steele had abused and exploited his position of trust as a workplace manager and as a member of the Salvation Army.

"In essence it appeared you were leading a double life," he told Steele.

He said for the past 27 years Steele "enjoyed the benefits of a reputation to which you were not entitled".

Steele maintained his innocence and the court heard he claimed the victims made up stories to set him up.

Judge Birmingham said Steele had shown no remorse or contrition, and his victims had been forced to carry the pressure and burden of what happened over an extended period of time.

He said a jail term had to be imposed "demonstrate the community's condemnation of offences of this kind".

Steele, who has prior convictions for fraud, will have to serve 21 months before he can be released on parole.