Victim of pedophile John Wayne Millwood alleges compensation avoided through disposal of assets

A victim-survivor of Tasmanian pedophile John Wayne Millwood claims his attacker handed over many of his assets to family members and third parties and filed for bankruptcy to avoid paying court-ordered compensation.

Millwood, 76 – a former businessman and art collector from Launceston – sexually abused the survivor, known as ZAB, for a period of six years in the 1980s.

In 2021, ZAB won a civil case in the Supreme Court against Millwood, however, the victim-survivor said the compensation amount was now around $6 million – the original order was a record high. of $5,313,500 – due to interest on the unpaid amount.

ZAB said he had filed a petition with the court to recover the compensation, but now hoped to be able to recover the payment through the provisions of the bankruptcy law.

While ZAB’s attorneys petitioned the Federal Court to declare Millwood bankrupt, before the case was heard in that court, Millwood filed for bankruptcy.

According to a creditor’s petition filed in federal court on ZAB’s behalf, Millwood “did not comply on or before July 26, 2022 with the requirements of a notice of bankruptcy served on it on July 5, 2022.”

The case is scheduled for hearing on September 8, however, according to the National Personal Insolvency Index, Millwood filed for bankruptcy on July 21.

ZAB said he didn’t find out until August 8.

“Unfortunately, [Millwood’s] self-declaration of bankruptcy will prolong the trauma incurred,” ZAB said.

ZAB said he and his attorneys have documents they plan to use in court to claim that Millwood disposed of assets while the civil case was pending.

“As primary creditor – I now owe $6 million in damages, costs and interest – I will, however, use the significant powers granted by the Bankruptcy Act to recover the assets of these family members and other third parties. “, did he declare.

“I have no doubt that we will be able to recover the $6 million owed to me in full, and it will cost Millwood and his family much more in the long run.”

The ZAB said law reform was needed “to ensure that convicted pedophiles cannot avoid paying compensation to victims in this way”.

“Superannuation laws are in desperate need of reform as they prevent us from accessing Millwood’s multi-million dollar self-managed super fund to recover damages,” he said.

Lawyer Angela Sdrinis – who specializes in child sexual abuse injury claims – said in her experience successful plaintiffs often struggled to obtain compensation from from individual authors.

“One of the things that was reported, but unfortunately not acted on, was a proposal to pass a law that would make an author’s retirement pension available or accessible to successful litigants in cases like these, in child abuse cases,” Ms. Sdrinis said.

She said this approach would be “a pretty good start”, but said not all authors have large pension amounts.

John Millwood was barred by the Parole Board from returning to Launceston.(Supplied: Old Geelong Grammerians)

Another reform suggested by Ms Sdrinis was to make it easier to obtain so-called freeze orders.

“One of the things that can be done in criminal proceedings is that assets can be blocked, restraint orders can be made so that the assets are kept safe, pending the outcome of the criminal proceedings,” she said.

“There really isn’t an analogous process in civil law. Plaintiffs can apply for what are called freezing orders, but these orders are very expensive to obtain in court.

“Freezing order law is pretty much that you’re only likely to get a freezing order if you can show that the disposal of the assets is absolutely imminent – like a ‘for sale’ sign on a house – you really have [to have] this situation.”

Ms Sdrinis said transfers of land and other assets could be reversed by court order, “if it is proven that the defendant disposed of the assets in order to avoid having to pay, but that is a difficult, expensive and complicated process”.

Record compensation in a civil lawsuit

Millwood initially pleaded not guilty in the Supreme Court to several child sex offenses. Before his trial, he changed his guilty plea.

He was sentenced to four years in prison and was granted parole in 2019 after serving just over half of his prison sentence.

ZAB filed a civil suit against Millwood in 2018. That case went to trial.

Millwood was unrepresented and did not make an appearance.

Chief Justice Alan Blow ordered Millwood to pay the abuse victim a record $5,313,500.

In his ruling, Judge Blow said the abuse “had devastating consequences for the plaintiff [ZAB’s] Mental Health”.

“His adult life has been impacted by his complex post-traumatic stress disorder and depression in just about every possible way. There are prospects for improvement, but certainly not for full recovery.”

The ABC attempted to contact Millwood through its trustee.

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