Menu
News

Teen 'raped thousands of times' brings down evil pedo ring

SURVIVOR: Robert says he has forgiven his rapist for his own personal reasons.
SURVIVOR: Robert says he has forgiven his rapist for his own personal reasons. Warren Lynam

AS HE walked up the driveway of the typical, suburban Sunshine Coast home, Robert's heart pounded as it dealt with the biggest anxiety rush of his life.

In front of him stood his very own house of horrors.

The task ahead of him, as he knocked on the front door, was to confront the monster inside.

If he could hold his nerve long enough, with a wire taped to his body, he could get the admissions detectives needed to arrest the man who raped and abused him "1000-2000 times".

The Coast 20-year-old was only eight when he met his monster, Manuel Gonzalo Pando Siguas, through the Lion's Club Aunties and Uncles mentoring program in Moreton Bay.

Robert's mother, single at the time, had sought out the program in a bid to have a positive role model in her son's life.

Within months the grooming began, and six months after their paths first crossed the horrific abuse began.

"I haven't thought like a child since the age of eight," Robert said.

"I know for a fact he kept a record for the amount of times (he raped or abused me).

"He kept records of the number of orgasms he had. You'd lose count in the thousands."

PREDATOR: Manuel Gonzalo Pando Siguas.
PREDATOR: Manuel Gonzalo Pando Siguas. Contributed

It would be two years before he first escaped the clutches of Pando Siguas.

Robert's family moved north to the Sunshine Coast.

But Robert was about to make the most selfless of decisions.

He kept contact with Pando Siguas after they moved.

The reason was simple. To protect other children.

"Who else would be the next kid?" Robert said.

"If I suffer it's okay, it's just me, I can deal with it. I can't let anybody else suffer.

"You just numb it out. You learnt to turn everything off."

After a few months Pando Siguas moved north to follow his victim, leaving his Clontarf property and moving into a home at Meridan Plains, a suburban estate full of young families.

Robert visited every second week, some day visits, and then, as a 16-year-old, depressed and battling suicidal thoughts, Robert moved in with his tormentor.

Pando Siguas had been grooming Robert for months, convincing him into believing his family didn't love him and he would be better off living with Pando Siguas.

"It was a horrible ordeal to go through to be honest with you," he said.

SURVIVOR: Robert with Det Snr Sgt Natascha Neumann (L) and Det Snr Sgt Dan Purdie.
SURVIVOR: Robert with Det Snr Sgt Natascha Neumann (L) and Det Snr Sgt Dan Purdie. Warren Lynam

Pando Siguas sent Robert out to play on the street to 'recruit' other kids from the age of 11.

Robert estimated he'd saved about 300 kids from being abused by the predator by driving them away instead.

He said he learnt to change his behaviour, knowing it was the best way to protect other children from Pando Siguas.

"I was an arsehole to kids," he said.

"You learn certain things to stop kids getting too close.

"If the kid's not in the house, he's safe.

"(He was) a sick bastard."

Pando Siguas introduced Robert to alcohol when he was about 11 or 12 and started to get Robert high on drugs as he got older, usually marijuana, and showed him pornography.

"I smoked pot and he raped me while I was passed out," Robert recalled.

"I went through all versions of the word rape in my case."

At his lowest, Robert came close to ending his life.

"Every morning and night I held a blade to my throat. I went through a massive spiral of depression," he said.

"With a single word they can send you crashing. You're always fearing for your life."

SURVIVOR: Robert's evidence helped police uncover the pedofile ring.
SURVIVOR: Robert's evidence helped police uncover the pedofile ring. Warren Lynam

But one thing kept him going. The desire to put Pando Siguas behind bars, where he could not harm another child.

"There was a lot of other kids that came before me," he said.

Pando Siguas told Robert about other victims.

"Obviously you can't save them all, especially the ones that had already been there," Robert said.

"I was the last one, I made sure of that."

Sex predator's downfall

From early on Robert began taking mental notes of where certain items were, from the knife on the bedside table to which drawer the marijuana was stashed in.

His evidence, according to Child Protection and Investigation Unit Detective Senior Sergeant Natascha Neumann, was impeccable, as he laid bare the horrific crimes in a gruelling 13-hour statement to police in May last year.

Robert's new partner, with whom he is expecting his first child, was the inspiration for him to come forward and tell his story.

That, and the knowledge that Pando Siguas was applying for a job as a counsellor at a local school.

Robert showed his strength of character yet again when he agreed to wear a wire and return to Pando Siguas' home, just four days after giving his statement.

The recordings were enough to allow officers to execute a search warrant and make the arrest.

"I was scared out of my mind and for my life," he said.

"Will the cops get to me in time? Is he going to find the wire?

"But as soon as I heard that door open I was in the zone. I knew I got him."

Volumes of photos of children, not being offended against, but whom Det Snr Sgt Neumann said appeared to be in Pando Siguas' grasp, were located by detectives.

Pando Siguas disclosed how many of them he'd offended against during extensive interviews with police.

"Novels upon novels", all about child sexual offending, were in the home of the 64-year-old Peruvian-born offender who was a NSW police officer from 1998-2000.

Robert's evidence sparked an outpouring, with five other victims identified and four of them providing statements to police.

"It's the biggest (case) that I've ever seen in seven years," Det Snr Sgt Neumann said.

Det Snr Sgt Neumann said another offender had also been identified through the investigation.

She said Pando Siguas and the other man had been working together, after meeting through another victim.

She believed there were children in Peru whom Pando Siguas may have offended against, and they were working to identify other victims and lay more charges.

Senior investigator Detective Senior Sergeant Dan Purdie and Det Snr Sgt Neumann said the case had blown away other officers with 20 years' experience in child protection.

She said all the victims were pre-pubescent boys, and all six who had come forward were now in their 20s.

Robert was the youngest.

"It (Pando Siguas' arrest) was the biggest weight off your shoulders you can ever imagine," he said.

"He is the most amazing young fellow I have ever come across," Det Snr Sgt Neumann said.

Pando Siguas pleaded guilty to a total of 76 charges committed over a 20-year period in Maroochydore District Court on Friday.

Seventy-three of them were serious, sexually-related offences, in a case Judge Gary Long said he'd struggled to find comparisons of such serious offending.

The charges included 17 counts of rape, five counts of maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child and 34 counts of indecent treatment of a child under 12.

Judge Long sentenced Pando Siguas to 16 years in jail and he must serve 80% of the sentence before he is eligible for parole after Judge Long declared the five counts of maintaining an unlawful relationship to be serious, violent offences.

Judge Long, who described Pando Siguas' "pedofilic interest" in young boys as "abhorrent", declared the predator's 553 days in pre-sentence custody as time already served.

Moving forward

For Robert, the struggles aren't over.

He never finished high school and has been working odd jobs to try and make ends meet, as he works to support his soon-to-be growing young family and find a permanent place to stay.

He's also working to rebuild relationships with his family, after the years of abuse he says tore them apart.

Pando Siguas told Robert he'd be in trouble if he ever spilled his secret.

"I learnt that's not the case, your family really is there until the end," Robert said.

Robert's mum Kathy was hopeful they would come through the other side of what had been a very dark period.

"I am very, very proud of my son and I hope we can all as a family get through this and stay together," Kathy said.

Robert, 21 in January, says he's working his "arse off to get out of here", eager to start fresh in another place, where the memories of his abuse aren't lingering.

"There's nothing worse than being offended against," Robert said.

"Don't listen to what they (offenders) say. No one's going to disown you, if they do they shouldn't have been in your life in the first place."

The words 'remember who you are and who you protect' are tattooed along his arm.

For all the suffering he's been through, Robert still has a passion for other people, and dreams of becoming a youth worker or public speaker.

"If there's a life I can protect in any way, shape or form, I will do it. That's the only thing that keeps me going," he said.

Robert said he forgave his attacker a long time ago, for his own personal reasons.

"But I do hope to a certain extent he gets a taste of his own medicine," he said.

"I hope the bastard sits in a 4x6 cell and rots away for the rest of his life.

"I know he will offend as soon as he gets out."

Victim and mother's names changed to protect identities.

Topics:  child sex abuse courts crime crime and punishment editors picks police sunshine coast


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

'Not appreciated': Police hit back after gridlock complaints

GRIDLOCK: Motorists found themselves stranded near the scene of a fatal crash on Saturday.

Some drivers stuck in traffic called Triple-0 to ask for water

Why energy discounts could be misleading

Energy bill discounts are not always as cheap as they appear.

Customers need to dig deeper to find real savings

Craft group raises significant funds for hospice

GOOD JOB: Ladies from the Ipswich Hospice craft group have helped the organisation raise much needed funds.

Craft group helps to raise funds for Ipswich Hospice.

Local Partners