Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile priest found guilty of sex attacks

A paedophile former priest has been unanimously convicted of a litany of sex offences committed against a trainee priest and two altar boys.

The Belfast Crown Court jury of nine men and three women had deliberated for almost five hours over two days before unanimously convicting 53-year-old James Martin Donaghy of four counts of indecent assault and one of attempted buggery.

They deliberated for a further two and a quarter hours before returning to court to convict Donaghy of a |further count of attempted buggery and a further 14 charges of indecent assault

Donaghy, from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn, stood impassive as the jury forewoman delivered the damning verdicts but relatives in the public gallery wept silently and shook their heads in continued denial.

Three charges of indecent assault relates to victim Father Patrick McCafferty, who told the jury he was sexually assaulted the night before Donaghy was ordained as a priest and in the parochial house at Corpus Christi.

He told the court the abuse first began while he was at a seminary in Wexford but that Donaghy, whom he described as “dominating and controlling”, continued the abuse numerous times including in his own family home in Lisburn the night before they went to Donegal on retreat.

One count of attempted buggery and three of indecent assault relate to evidence given by former altar boy James Doherty, also known as Seamus, who testified that as Father Charlie Agnew lay dead in the parochial house at St Michael's in Finaghy, Donaghy tried to sexually assault him and also that five or six weeks after Fr Agnew died, he was sexually assaulted again in the same place.

The other count of indecent assault related to an incident at the parochial house in Corpus Christi where Donaghy had been moved to.

The remaining charges of indecent assault and attempted buggery relate to Donaghy's third victim whom he abused from the age of around 14 until he was 20 years old when he was an altar boy and trainee priest.

The jury is still deliberating on a further four counts of indecent assault, two of attempted buggery and one of common assault dated between June 1983 and December 2000, relating to Donaghy's alleged misconduct against all three.

Although the jury was told earlier yesterday that majority verdicts could be accepted, the jury's verdicts were unanimous in all but three of the indecent assault charges, where they convicted the paedophile by a majority of 10 to two.

Trial Judge Patrick Lynch QC remanded Donaghy into custody and he will appear in court again today where the jury will continue their deliberations on the last remaining charges.

The trial continues.

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