Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile priest who abused boy 20 years ago won't apologise to victim

By Paul Higgins

A convicted paedophile priest yesterday refused to publicly apologise for sexually abusing a boy more than 20 years ago.

The 68-year-old disgraced former priest Daniel John Curran, was in Downpatrick Crown Court facing sex abuse charges for the sixth time.

Yesterday, he was due to be sentenced for indecent assault.

Freeing Curran on bail until Thursday of next week, Judge Piers Grant said he wanted to "take time to consider the matter".

The judge declared however: "This is just another example of the long, serious abuse that will be heard at the hands of members of the clergy such as this and the damage that has been caused is quite disgraceful."

At an earlier hearing Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to a single charge of indecently assaulting a male child on a date unknown between January 2-6, 1991.

Opening the Crown case, prosecuting lawyer James Johnston told the court that following a similar pattern to his previous offences, Curran had taken his victim, who was then just 12 years-old, and two other boys to his family cottage near Tyrella in Co Down.

At the time Curran was the parish priest for St Paul's in west Belfast and although that was not the victim's parish, Mr Johnston said the family "recognised" Curran.

He told the boy's parents that one of the other boys was refusing to go along with him unless their son went too, and the court heard that "against his father's wishes, the victim's mother gave her consent" for the boy to go along.

The lawyer described that at the cottage, the victim was given a "glass of whiskey" by Curran and that all three, along with the defendant, slept in one double bed "with their clothes on".

The victim got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and when he came back inside, Curran was waiting for him "naked from the waist down," save for socks.

The priest took the boy's hand and put it on his private parts said Mr Johnston, adding that according to the victim it felt "slimy" and that the incident "seemed to go on for ages as I froze".

Having pulled away, the victim and one of the other boys left the cottage and were "wandering country roads for some time" until they went back at around 6am.

It was then that the victim uncovered a "snuff box which was filled with Vaseline".

The court heard the victim did not make any complaint to the police until 2015 and that was when Curran was questioned about the allegations.

Curran told police he was a "hopeless alcoholic" at the time and couldn't specifically remember the victim being at the cottage.

He did however say that he had "deepest regrets" for the numerous bouts of sexual activity that he indulged in at that time but that he had not had a drink since July 1994.

Mr Johnston said it was the prosecution submission that Curran's criminal record was an aggravating factor, as was the breach of trust which had been placed in him as a priest, the age of the victim at the time, and the damage the incident caused the victim.

Revealing that Curran has been a registered sex offender since 1994, the lawyer said there had been convictions for offences committed in 1977, '82, '86, '88, '90 and 1991 and that while Curran had been subject to a "significant period of imprisonment", the last time he was before the court in 2015 he was given a suspended sentence.

Defence barrister Noel Dillon argued that as Curran had undergone counselling, is assessed as posing a low risk of harm and low risk of committing further offences, coupled with the fact that his other convictions pre-date this offence, the court could impose another suspended sentence.

He added that, to date, he has been handed more than 15 years of jail sentences both immediate and suspended.

Describing how Curran is "very much socially isolated", the lawyer asked the judge to reflect the delay in the case coming to the court, revealing how the victim had originally approached another priest in 2008 but had not felt ready to go to police.

Judge Grant told the lawyer however, that it was "very common" in cases such as this because "these people have been abused and have been seriously, seriously damaged and the harm that's been caused is often the explanation for the delay".

Belfast Telegraph

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