Former priest and serial child abuser Tony Walsh fails in sentence appeals

‘Singing Priest’ serving 16 year term for rape and abuse of three boys

 Fr Tony Walsh  performing with the All Priests Show. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Fr Tony Walsh performing with the All Priests Show. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

Former priest and serial child abuser Tony Walsh has failed in appeals against separate sentences imposed on him for what the Court of Criminal Appeal has described as the “depraved” rape and sexual abuse of young boys.

Walsh, who was known as the “Singing Priest” for his role in a travelling all-priest vocal group before he was defrocked, is serving a 16-year sentence imposed on him in 2010 for the rape and abuse of three schoolboys.

In 2012 Walsh had 15 months added to this sentence for abusing two other boys.

In a written judgement delivered by presiding judge Mr Justice John Murray, the appeal court said that with regard to the first appeal the offences were of the “utmost gravity”, but even that description did not do justice to the “appalling nature” of the offences committed against young boys.

The effects these crimes had on the victims was severely and permanently damaging to them as persons and in their capacity to ever again lead fully normal lives, the court said.

“In short, as regards these offences, his [Walsh’s] conduct over a period of four years in serially abusing the boys concerned must be characterised as nothing less than depraved,” the court said.

With regard to the second appeal, the court noted that the Walsh had “used and abused his position of spiritual trust” as a priest to assault the young boys who “suffered a grave injustice at a young age”.

Walsh (60) had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin church between November 1978 and April 1979. He pleaded guilty to a further charge of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin school between January 1984 and December 1985.

He was convicted by a jury in November 2010 of a further nine counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery on the third boy between June 1st, 1979 and June 30th, 1983. He had denied the charges.

In 2012 Walsh, formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecent assault on January 1st and April 4th, 1979. The victims were aged between 10 and 11.

In 1997 Walsh was convicted of abusing six victims and sentenced to 10 years in prison, later reduced to six years on appeal.

Mr Justice Murray said that in each application brought by Walsh the court would refuse leave to appeal.