Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile ex-monk (89) told he faces 'significant' jail term for sex abuse of boys

By Michael Donnelly

An 89-year-old paedophile former monk who told police he was "not really" attracted to young children has heard he faces "significant" sentences for his sex abuse of three boys in the early Seventies and Eighties.

In all Vincent Lewis, formally Bro Ambrose with Our Lady of Bethlehem Monastery in Portglenone, pleaded guilty to a total of 57 sex offences involving three boys on separate dates over a ten-year period up to 1983.

Antrim Crown Court heard that Lewis abused one boy while a monk in the Co Antrim priory which he joined when he was 16, and then sexually abused two brothers after leaving holy orders when he was 50 and later marrying.

Judge Desmond Marrinan, who adjourned sentence until next week said the former monk, who also once appeared on a dancing programme for BBC's True North series, faced "significant custodial sentences despite his age".

Earlier, prosecution QC David McDowell revealed that Lewis' reign of abuse began as Bro Ambrose, when he met his young victim, then aged ten, who did odd jobs around the Abbey. This abuse, which began in 1973, ended in 1978, shortly before leaving the monastery, was the more serious.

Mr McDowell said it involved indecent assaults which quickly escalated. The abuse took place both within the Abbey buildings, including a guest house for those on retreat, and also around the grounds.

He also revealed Bro Ambrose told the youngster his parents said he had been "bad, but I am here to look after you" before abusing him, and that what he was doing to him "was right".

The monk, who on occasions plied his victim with alcohol, would also give him his wage packet for the odd jobs he did, telling him, "there's a wee bit extra in there". The abuse ended when he was 15.

The court also heard that the man, paid an out of court settlement in 2000 for the abuse he suffered, eventually went to police after learning that the former monk was not as incapacitated as he was told.

Mr McDowell said the former monk's second victim was a young teenager whom he once tried to abuse on the shores of Lough Neagh after a swim, while the third was his younger brother, indecently assaulted and abused over a four year period from the age of nine.

The lawyer said that when eventually questioned by the police, Lewis denied even knowing his first victim. He made 'no comment' interviews when asked about the two brothers.

Defence QC James Gallagher, said Lewis, married for 40 years, said all of his offending behaviour "finished in its entirety 35 years ago and there has been no other occurence".

"Not only did it cease, but offending decreased in severity," said Mr Gallagher, adding that his offending first occurred 45 years ago, and that his first victim got a "remedy of sorts" when paid a "very considerable compensation".

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