Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

When Kirsty Neilley first heard about the many crimes of notorious pedophile James Geoffrey Griffin, she struggled to reconcile that with the person she knew.

WARNING: This article contains content that some readers may find distressing.

“I did not believe that it could be real,” she told the Commission of Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, which is conducting hearings in Launceston about what happened at the hospital.

“That wasn’t the person I knew.”

Ms Neilley remembered Griffin as a “second father”, a “family figure”, a man who had attended her wedding.

But Griffin was not a family friend. He was a pedophile who worked as a nurse.

He met her when she was admitted to the children’s ward at Launceston General Hospital (LGH) in 2015.

She was a 16-year-old patient, he was her caregiver.

From early on he went out of his way to create a special bond with Ms Neilley, the commission heard.

“When I was first admitted, he was just like any of the other nurses,” she told the commission.

Drone shot of Launceston General Hospital.
The review will comprise experts in child trauma, governance and hospital administration, with “unions and LGH staff” invited to participate.(ABC News: Luke Bowden)

Ms Neilley was there for mental health reasons and so always had someone watching her.

More often that not that person was Griffin.

She told the commission she was not sure if it was because they got on better or because he requested her.

Ms Neilley told the commission she began to open up to him and they started messaging on Facebook.

“He told me not to tell anyone,” she told the commission.

Then late one night she got a phone call from him.

“He said somebody had reported him for getting close to me,” she said.

Unwarranted intimacy

She told the commission no one at the hospital spoke to her about their contact, and Griffin made it clear it was to remain a secret.

“He told me not to tell anyone because he could lose his job over it, but he did not want me to be by myself,” she said.

She also told the commission Griffin would give her long hugs and kiss her when she said goodbye.

“At the time it was totally like, I had no problem,” she said.

“I felt like I had someone there for me. I do not know why he was doing it but I had no complaints, because he was there.”

She said that, reflecting back, it was not the way she’d treat a family friend.

The commission also heard how he would take Ms Neilley off the ward and do coffee runs to the shop near the hospital.

None of this raised alarm with Ms Neilley, who trusted Griffin.

But one incident, did make her feel “uncomfortable”.

“[It was night]he’d come in, I did not hear him or anything, and then I woke up to him sort of leaning over the bed and I felt really weird, “she told the commission.

Ms Neilley told the commission it was really dark but she could see he was holding his phone over her with the torch on. This happened five or six times.

Ms Neilley was discharged but ended up back in hospital a few months later.

This time she was in the ICU – where Griffin visited her a few times.

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