Belfast Telegraph

Former priest must return to face indecency charges

By Eimear Ni Bhraonain

A former Irish priest who was deported from Brazil to England on St Stephen's Day is to be returned here to face indecent assault charges.

Peter Kennedy (72) was refused bail in London and ordered to return to Ireland after the court heard he was a "classic fugitive".

The ex-cleric is at the centre of child sex abuse allegations made by 18 complainants over incidents between 1968 and 1984.

Mr Kennedy, who had travelled to Brazil on a British passport, appeared before the City of Westminster Magistrates' Court in London yesterday morning. Counsel for the judicial authorities in Ireland, Adam Harbinson, said the arrest warrant detailed 55 separate allegations of indecent assault on 18 complainants.

Mr Kennedy, who has no previous convictions, first made news here in 2003 when a former victim of his was awarded ?325,000 in compensation -- in one of the largest individual payouts on an Irish clerical sex abuse case.

It is understood he had been working as an English teacher in Brazil before his deportation to the UK. The former member of the St Patrick's Missionary Society was ordained in 1964 and worked for some years in Kenya before moving back to Ireland. The society said previously that he ceased active ministry in 1986 and was formally laicised in 2003.

Yesterday the court in London heard he was to be sent back to Ireland, giving him seven days to appeal the case. He will be deported within 17 days. When asked if he understood, Mr Kennedy replied "yes". He was refused bail due to the seriousness of the offences and his lack of ties.

The judge said the arrest warrant was in order and valid and ordered the deportation. Mr Harbinson opposed bail for Mr Kennedy.

He said the allegations started in 2002 and Mr Kennedy then went to Brazil at the same time which was "clearly not a coincidence".

The court was told he had no settled address here.

"He is a classic fugitive," Mr Harbinson said.

He had been arrested at Gatwick in the UK after being returned from Brazil by the authorities who had declined to issue him with another visa.

Defence counsel Joanna French said her client was 72 and a UK national. He currently has no Irish passport. The court heard he suffered from high blood pressure.

If he was given the opportunity for bail, he would surrender his passport, the court was told.

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