Belfast Telegraph

Man abused by paedophile priest Joseph Steele to receive £100k

Belfast High Court.
Belfast High Court.

By Alan Erwin

A man abused by a paedophile priest in Belfast nearly 50 years ago is to receive a £100,000 payout.

The 60-year-old, who cannot be identified, sued over the sexual assaults he said were inflicted on him by the late Fr Joseph Steele.

At the High Court on Monday it was confirmed that his lawsuit against the Diocese of Down and Connor has been resolved.

Patrick Lyttle QC, for the plaintiff, disclosed: "The action is settled in the sum of £100,000 plus costs."

No admission of liability was made as part of the outcome.

Steele, who died in 2012 at the age of 71 while awaiting sentencing for abusing a boy and girl, was also a defendant in the case.

The wheelchair-using former priest had admitted carrying out the indecent assaults over a period between 1967 and 1983.

He was also jailed in 1996 for sexually molesting three girls and two boys while he was a pastor and chaplain at a children's home more than a decade earlier.

Civil proceedings were brought against him and the Diocese over the alleged abuse suffered by the plaintiff at locations in Belfast in around 1970.

He brought a claim for psychiatric trauma due to assaults perpetrated on him by the convicted sex offender.

With Steele no longer alive, the action against him was formally ended on Monday.

Outside court the plaintiff's solicitor, Claire McKeegan of Phoenix Law, said: "This man was a prolific paedophile who enjoyed unlimited access to children in various locations in Belfast which were teeming with young children, including a secondary school whilst he was a priest in the Diocese of Down and Connor. 

"Fr Steele used his position of trust and the cloak of the cloth to abuse and violate vulnerable young children, boys and girls."

Ms McKeegan confirmed the man who sued had been a witness for the prosecution during Steele's second trial at Belfast Crown Court in 2012.

She added: "Fr Steele, despite entering a guilty plea at that time, evaded justice due to his health. 

"Our client is vindicated today at long last."

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