Reverend Michael Painter didn't stay long after laying 13-year-old David Dossett to rest during a small but gut-wrenching funeral service at Karrakatta in 1976.

The boy's mother Margaret assumed the family priest, who she says had taken David on youth group trips, found it too upsetting.

Almost two decades later she learnt the real reason Painter disappeared early on that terrible day. He was a shame- ridden paedophile who robbed David of his innocence and drove him to suicide.

Mrs Dossett's memory of the circumstances surrounding David's death was vivid.

She knew the names of the constables who were at the bush site in Thornlie where David was found at 4.50pm on August 12, 1976, having been lying unconscious and out of sight all day.

She described the distressing scene at Royal Perth Hospital where she rushed to find her son lying in intensive care.

"I put my face in a corner and I was completely shattered," Mrs Dossett said.

He would stay in a coma for 102 days before being taken off life support and dying 36 years ago this Wednesday.

In 2004, she expressed her suffering in a letter and asked the Anglican Church if it would pay for her to visit her son's resting place in Portsmouth, England.

"He was officially brain dead for that period of time," she wrote. "I think those must have been the worst days of my life watching David fighting for his life every day."

David, who moved to Perth with his parents as a seven-year-old, had always been a delightful son for Mrs Dossett and her husband Francis.

She said he attended an Anglican youth group run by Painter in Dorothy Street, Gosnells, for about two years leading up to the morning he left home on his bike and headed for school as normal.

On the way he swallowed a big quantity of sleeping tablets and never woke up. Two people walking a dog found him sunburnt and unresponsive.

By then, Mrs Dossett had called the police, concerned that David - always reliable - was not home from school.

After visiting her dying son in hospital, she found the suicide note he had left in his bedroom and for the next 18 years all she and her family could do was wonder why.

"On March 21, 1994, the police came to our home to tell me about Michael Painter and his involvement with David," she wrote in the letter to the Anglican Church.

Her memory is of the police telling her they had seen David's name in diaries kept by Painter, who was already charged with sexually assaulting another teenage boy.

Everything about her son's death came flashing back and Painter, the priest who they had complete faith and trust in, was suddenly a monster.

Mrs Dossett said she felt sick knowing Painter had gone to the hospital and prayed for David and that he was the one who blessed her son at the funeral. Painter committed suicide in June 1994. As she talked to _The Weekend West, _she suddenly remembered another poignant moment at the hospital.

"A couple of times I just wanted to take him home," she said. "I fed him one night. It was mashed-up cauliflower cheese - his favourite meal - and I'm sure he was sort of licking his lips."

The Church accepts that Painter had groomed and abused a number of boys but it doesn't know how many.

"We are very much willing to help a royal commission," Perth diocese registrar Hamish Milne said. "This guy was always setting himself and always looking at ways to be around young children. I heard a story about him trying to get an older boy to get younger boys for him."

Mrs Dossett decided to move David's remains to Portsmouth to settle him somewhere he would find magical.

"I didn't want him to be just a name plate at Karrakatta," she said. "His ashes were scattered on a hill where he can chase squirrels and go to a football match with his grand- father. He'll always be that happy boy I remembered."

Tuart Place provides support in reporting and discussing child abuse, freecall 1800 619 795.

The West Australian

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