Steve Larkins had long been suspected of abuse but continued to work with vulnerable children until the discovery of child pornography sparked the investigation which finally brought him down.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told on Thursday that, although there had been rumours within the Aboriginal community dating back to when Larkins worked with the Scouts, he kept his senior position with Hunter Aboriginal Children Services because he had forged a working with children check.
He was only exposed as a paedophile when a work colleague found indecent material on a flash drive belonging to him.
Karen Barwick, HACS special projects manager, told the commission another HACS worker called her to his house in 2011 to show her the pornographic pictures he had discovered.
“I looked at the screen ... [and I saw] files of pornographic pictures. I asked ‘whose is it?’ and was told they believed it was Steve Larkins’,” Ms Barwick said.
Ms Barwick added that she told them she did not care to whom it belonged and that “we needed to go directly to police”.
She drove both of them to the police station with the USB drive.
Larkins, who had been the chief executive of HACS, was jailed the following year for child pornography, forgery and child sex abuse offences – the latter dating back to the early ’90s.
Ms Barwick had spent 15 years with the NSW Department of Social Services and said she felt Larkins deliberately gave her a heavy workload so she had no time to investigate rumours about him.
“I was trying to get the numbers up to meet funding obligations for the organisation,” Ms Barwick said.
“The one thing Steve did was throw a lot of work at me and I guess, on reflection when I look back on it, it was to keep me busy.”