Belfast Telegraph

'Evil' ex-monk (89) is jailed over horrific abuse of three children

By Michael Donnelly

An 89-year-old former monk who preyed on three young boys has been jailed and put on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

Judge Desmond Marrinan told Vincent Lewis - formerly Brother Ambrose of Our Lady of Bethlehem Monastery in Portglenone - he had been "an evil monk".

He also branded his catalogue of abuse "horrific, terrible and despicable" and said the "cruelty meted out was almost unbelievable".

Following a hearing at Antrim Crown Court, the paedophile was jailed for eight and a half years, with a further two years on probation, and placed on the Sex Offenders' Register for life.

Judge Marrinan told Lewis that had he been a younger man he would have been handed a heavier sentence for his 57 crimes, which included indecent assaults and gross indecency committed against two brothers on dates up to 1983.

The former monk turned printer, who later married and moved to Annagher Road in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, told police he was "not really" attracted to young boys.

But he abused one youngster while a monk in the Co Antrim priory he joined at 16 and then sexually abused the two brothers after leaving holy orders when he was 50.

Judge Marrinan said Lewis had for his own "utterly selfish and sociopathic" pleasure treated his first unfortunate victim "as a plaything to slake his perverted sexual desires and showed him no mercy or consideration".

This behaviour, added Judge Marrinan, caused his victims "to lose the precious right to innocence and, in the case of two of them, caused them lifelong damage and pain which cannot be repaired".

Judge Marrinan also stressed that the case was yet another "grim reminder of the incalculable damage that a paedophile like the defendant can do".

He said that in one case Lewis, who printed memorial cards and Mass cards and was featured in the BBC series True North, used a photographic dark room for his "dark purposes".

Last week, prosecution QC David McDowell said that the defendant met his first young victim, then aged 10, as he did odd jobs around the abbey.

This abuse, beginning in 1973, ended in 1978, shortly before he left the monastery.

Defence QC James Gallagher said Lewis - married for 40 years - claimed all of his offending behaviour "finished in its entirety 35 years ago and there has been no other occurrence". He added that unlike other similar cases, his offending had decreased in seriousness over time.

Belfast Telegraph

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