Paedophile priest affirms guilty pleas to 74 charges

 

FATHER Brendan Smyth has affirmed guilty pleas at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 74 charges of indecent and sexual assaults on 20 victims over a 35-year period to 1993.

He was remanded in continuing custody to July 21st by Judge Cyril Kelly for sentence and the hearing of evidence. Some of the victims may also give evidence of the effect of his offending on them, the court was told.

Judge Kelly was told Smyth (69), with an address at Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, came directly into custody in the Republic recently at the end of two prison terms served in Northern Ireland for similar offences.

Smyth stood nodding his head in agreement and occasionally replying "yes" almost inaudibly as the registrar read out each charge 19 him and asked him if he affirmed the guilty plea he entered some weeks ago in the District Court.

He pleaded guilty to 62 offences of indecent assault on males and females in a hotel, a cinema, a boat house, an abbey, a convent land in other venues in several counties within the State on dates from January 1st, 1958, to December 31st, 1991.

He also pleaded guilty to 12 charges of sexual assaults on males and females on dates from January 1st, 1991, to December 31st, 1993.

The offences took place in nine counties spread over the four provinces. Females were the victims in 61 of the charges and males in the remaining 13.

Ms Gemma Loughran, defending, said Smyth had completed a therapeutic course while in prison in the North and a report on his progress in that course would be provided for the court. The report should be of help to the court as an indication of how her client might behave in the future.

Judge Kelly, who welcomed Ms Loughran on her first visit to the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, asked for a probation and welfare report on Smyth. She said the defence would provide a medical report on him.

Mr Maurice Gaffney SC, prosecuting, said some of the victims wished to exercise their right to give evidence at the sentence hearing. It would take some time to contact all of them though most of that had been done already by gardai.

Mr Gaffney asked that at least one day be set aside for the sentence hearing but said the case might continue over into a second day. There was a considerable amount of evidence to be heard and at this stage the court did not know how many of the victims would exercise their right to be heard. Even if none or not many of the victims gave evidence, a second day might be needed, Mr Gaffney said.

He said copies of a transcript of the proceedings in the District Court would be provided by the prosecution for the court and the defence legal team. This included a statement from each of the victims in the charges which was read to Smyth in the District Court and his comments on each one.

"These should be ready within a fortnight and should be a great help to the court," Mr Gaffney added.

Ms Loughran told Judge Kelly the defence had no objection to him reading the full statements made to gardai by the victims. The court was told there were 300 pages of statements made by a total of 63 witnesses in the case.

Det Insp Tom Dixon said he had now contacted nearly all the victims in the case. Some of them now lived abroad and would need a month to arrange to travel to Ireland. The preparation of victim impact reports was well in hand and he hoped everything would be ready in six weeks' time.

Judge Kelly directed that the victim impact statements be prepared by gardai. All the reports and any other documentary material should be made available to him at least one week before July 21st.