Appeal against 12-year prison sentence on priest is dismissed

 

The Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday dismissed an appeal against a 12-year prison sentence imposed on a retired Donegal priest, who pleaded guilty last year to a series of sexual offences on young boys over a 17-year period.

Eugene Greene (72) admitted 40 sample charges of indecent assault, buggery and gross indecency on 26 child victims between 1965 and 1982.

At his sentencing, one of his victims, now a 37-year-old man, cried and told the court he hoped "the bastard is locked away for life". The trial judge said the priest had wreaked havoc in the community where he operated.

At the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday Mr Patrick Gageby SC, for Greene, asked the court to reduce the sentence. When the sentence was imposed, the alcohol problems from which his client had suffered had not been mentioned in court, counsel said.

There was also "the antiquity of the case". The fact the priest had not been charged with any such offence in respect of the period after 1982 showed strong evidence of rehabilitation.

At Greene's age, a term of 12 years was virtually a life sentence, Mr Gageby argued.

The court was told the offences to which the priest had pleaded guilty were sample charges, and there were originally 108 counts on the indictment. The maximum sentence he could have received was life.

Mr Justice Murray, sitting with Mr Justice O'Neill and Mr Justice Herbert, said the court was not satisfied the trial judge in Donegal Circuit Court had erred in principle in the sentence imposed. The priest had engaged in an appalling degree of self-indulgence, and many of his victims had suffered permanent emotional damage.