A mother who discovered 18 years after her teenage son committed suicide that he had been molested by an Anglican priest in Gosnells will ask the national royal commission into child sex abuse to investigate the case.
David Dossett was 13 in 1976 when he overdosed on sleeping tablets, leaving his mother Margaret baffled until detectives with evidence about the crimes of Rev. Michael Roderick Painter knocked on her door in 1994. Mrs Dossett has spoken publicly for the first time about her son's suicide and her belief that Painter abused many children before taking his life.
She described the heartache of finding out that the priest, who prayed for her son while he lay dying in hospital and later conducted his funeral service, was responsible for David's death.
"I'd wish I'd had the strength to confront Michael Painter and say, 'What have you done to my son'," Mrs Dossett said. "But I didn't have that strength. It is my big regret."
Painter killed himself four months after police officers told Mrs Dossett that entries in his diaries would result in the priest being charged with molesting her son between 1974 and 1976.
The 54-year-old priest was already facing court after pleading guilty in 1994 to two counts of indecent assault against another teenage boy at the Anglican Church rectory in Mt Hawthorn. In June that year, he was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to do 240 hours of community work. A newspaper report at the time said detectives had evidence that at least seven boys had fallen victim to the paedophile priest.
Mrs Dossett has urged the Anglican Church to release any files on Painter to the royal commission. She said after her son was found unconscious in bush near his Thornlie school, she found a note in his bedroom.
"Mum, I have had enough and can't take any more," it read. "Sorry. Love, David."
David lay in a coma for 102 days before dying on November 21, 1976. His family could not comprehend why he had taken such a drastic step. "I hadn't considered that David had been sexually abused," Mrs Dossett said. "He'd been such a happy boy."
In 2004, the Anglican Church agreed to pay for David's remains to be moved from Perth to England, where he was born.
A year later, a Church document marked "Case X04-006" referred to Painter as "the known paedophile".
Hamish Milne, the registrar of the Church's Perth diocese, said Mrs Dossett had been devastated by what happened to her son. "We have taken what she has said at face value and kept in contact," he said.