Belfast Telegraph

Co Antrim pervert branded evil monk sentenced for abuse of a fourth boy

Vincent Lewis from Coalisland at an earlier court appearance
Vincent Lewis from Coalisland at an earlier court appearance

By Michael Donnelly

A 91-year-old former cleric branded an "evil monk" when jailed last year for the sex abuse of three boys, was sentenced again yesterday for the abuse of a fourth victim.

However, Vincent Lewis - formerly known as Brother Ambrose - will serve no extra jail time as his three-year sentence was made to run concurrently with the eight and a half years given to him in January 2018.

That sentence, which could see Lewis free by the summer of 2022, is currently under review by the Court of Appeal after being referred by Attorney General John Larkin as being "unduly lenient".

Yesterday Dungannon Crown Court Judge Neil Rafferty told the former monk of Our Lady of Bethelem Monastery in Portglenone, Co Antrim, that while he may have laid an "unencombered" life, his victims had to suffer a "lifetime spoilt" by his abuse.

In contrast, Judge Rafferty praised the "bravery" of his victim, telling him but for "people like you in coming forward these offences would remain unpunished and it is right they are punished".

Telling his victim that Lewis was "entirely to blame" for what happened to him, Judge Rafferty said Lewis's guilty pleas were of "significant benefit ... and certainly welcome" which gave him vindication.

Prosecution counsel Ciaran Harvey told the court that the abuse of the latest victim of Northern Ireland's oldest self-confessed sex offender, also occurred in the mid-1980s after the former monk turned printer, left holy orders and married and moved to Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

Mr Harvey said Lewis, who pleaded guilty to five charges of gross and indecent assault, subjected the then 10-year-old to repeated acts of "oral rape, accompanied by acts of degradation".

And when finally done with him, Lewis told the young victim he "didn't need him anymore and not to come back".

He also gave him £20 as payment for the abuse he suffered, sometimes twice a week for months on end.

Mr Harvey said the month after Lewis was sentenced for the abuse of three boys, the man came forward to police. When initially questioned about the abuse, Lewis told police he was "not in a position" to answer questions.

Defence barrister Noel Dillon said Lewis had made "immediate pleas" which unfortunately, given the question mark over his previous sentence, could not be proceeded with until now, adding that Lewis has "apologised" and "prays for the victim".

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