Ex-priest gets 18 months for abusing boys

Tue, Oct 9, 2012, 01:00

A FORMER priest who indecently assaulted five schoolboys 30 years ago has been given an 18-month sentence.

The 76-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of indecent assault on the boys on dates between 1979 and 1981.

The boys were aged between 11 and 13 years at the time of the offences, which took place in the then priest’s home and at a nearby school. The man has no previous convictions. The court heard two 11-year-old boys were invited into the accused’s house on the premise of delivering leaflets, and were abused there. Another boy, also 11, was told by the accused he had been selected for a trip abroad, and was abused when he went to meet the man to find out about the trip.

A 13-year-old boy was indecently assaulted after being invited into the house to be photographed for a parish magazine. The fifth victim, aged about 12, was abused at school when the accused came across him in the corridor after he had been put out of class.

Judge Margaret Heneghan noted the man was now elderly and suffered health difficulties but also that the offences involved multiple victims and a breach of trust.

She noted that the maximum penalty for these offences was two years’ imprisonment, and that she must decide where the incidents lay in the range of indecent assaults.

Judge Heneghan noted that the guilty pleas had been entered following legal argument in his trial and before the victims had to give evidence, but said the guilty pleas did not have the same weight as if they had been entered at an earlier date. She said she did not think the circumstances of the case warranted consecutive sentencing and imposed 18 months on each count to run concurrently. She backdated the sentences to June 2011 to reflect part of the time he has spent in custody.

The complainants had made statements to gardaí between 2002 and 2009.

Garda Michelle Carey told Mary Rose Gearty SC, prosecuting, that when gardaí interviewed the accused in 2010, he denied the offences but made “quasi-admissions” about being aroused by young boys. He denied any inappropriate touching.

David Keane SC, defending, said the accused had instructed him to offer a sincere apology to each complainant. The man had been laicised in the 1980s and had settled abroad.