How Madeleine West helped put her abuser behind bars.

Content warning: This story includes descriptions of child sexual abuse that may be distressing to some readers.

In July 2022, Madeleine West came face-to-face with her abuser.

The visit to 73-year-old Peter Vincent White's home had been weeks in the making, part of a major police investigation. And it was West's bravery in confronting the 73-year-old former plumber, her childhood next-door neighbour, that helped put him in prison.

West had been fitted with a secret recording device when she knocked on his door. Her mission was to land a confession from the paedophile who had abused her and at least six other children during the 70s and 80s.

Watch: Madeleine West on 60 Minutes. Post continues below video.

Video via Nine.

"The door opened. And in that moment, I had my 'gotcha' moment because his face dropped," West recalled to 60 Minutes. "I knew he was waiting. He'd been waiting for this day for 30 or 40 years." 

The audio of their confrontation was shared publicly for the first time during February 4's 60 Minutes episode.

In it, West confronted him about the abuse she endured between the ages of four and 10. White claimed he couldn't remember his offending, but accepted it was possible.

"I don't remember doing anything like that. I'm sorry please, please forgive me," he said in the recording.


"If I did, I, I don't remember. I'm very sorry if I did."

West then put on the hardest acting performance of her life. She could be heard telling White his apology "meant a lot", but in reality, she said she wanted to "claw his eyes out".

"At the time, you're in acting mode and you go, 'Of course,'" West said. "What else am I going to say? Punch him in the face? Kick his teeth in? I felt like doing that. I wanted to claw his eyes out.

"Forgive? Give you words to make you feel better so you can go back to your life, and your happy, healthy family and your international travel. Meanwhile, I'm in the deepest, darkest hole I've ever been in my life — and you want forgiveness?"

West had first reported White to police in 2017. Separately, her childhood friend Amanda Lee, also one of White's victims, made a separate complaint two years later, reigniting a cold case.

"It was just abhorrent, disgusting, horrific, calculated, intentional offending," police investigator Scott Tuddenham told 60 Minutes. "There were some factors you don't come across too often. I was really intrigued to find out what else was there."

In December 2023, White plead guilty to 33 child sexual abuse offences against seven children in a rural Victorian town and in Sunbury in Melbourne's north-west between 1977 and 1988, and was handed a 15-year prison sentence in the County Court of Victoria. He must serve a minimum of nine years before being eligible for parole.

At an earlier plea hearing, West demanded White look her in the eyes as she read her victim impact statement.

On social media, she described herself entering the courtroom "meek as a mouse", and leaving "roaring like a lion".


"Because I finally got to say words 40 years in the making. I got to stand up for the little girl I ran from as far and as fast as I could, and I got to explain the true impact of his actions not just on that tiny little girl, but on the broken woman she would become, and on every person who crossed her path.


"He wept, looked away. And time and again I demanded he meet my gaze, for the first time in his miserable life show a shred of integrity by looking at me and LISTENING," she wrote.

After his December sentencing, she concluded, "Tomorrow looks bright".

"It took 40 years to be delivered but now it's here. It's just a pittance compared to the life sentence served by victims of childhood sexual assault, but today's ruling demonstrates that victim survivors are not alone, it was never our fault, we aren't broken and that #justice is possible!"

She said she hoped telling her story would encourage other victims to come forward and report their abuse.

"This is a crime against CHILDREN. Of the worst possible kind," she said. "By continuing to pretend it doesn't happen we willfully endanger our kids, just as we were left in danger like so many generations before us. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. It's happening here. It's happening now. It's time to stop."

If this brings up any issues for you, contact Bravehearts, an organisation dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse, on 1800 272 831.

Feature image: Instagram.