Belfast Telegraph

Paedophile priest who told boy (7) he could get dead grandfather into heaven is given fourth jail term

Paedophile priest James Donaghy - who told a distraught seven-year-old boy that he could get his dead grandfather into heaven if he performed a sex act on him - has been given another jail sentence.

But although this is the fourth time the 55-year-old sex predator has been found guilty of sex abuse, he wont spend an extra day in prison.

Donaghy is already serving a ten-year term for the sex abuse of three other victims.

Belfast Crown Court Judge Kinney told Donaghy, that had these current offences been dealt with when originally sentenced, they would have been taken into consideration.

In the circumstances, given the "principle of totallity", his sentence will run concurrently with the previous term.

Judge Kinney said no-one was at fault for the case not being dealt with sooner, in particular there could be no criticism of Donaghy's victim. Sexual abuse, he added, had "devasting consequences and not all victims are ready to voice their complaints at an early stage".

The court had heard that at the time, Donaghy was a priest in the west Belfast parish of Corpus Christi in Ballymurphy, and was supposed to be instructing his victim in his first confession and communion.

Instead Donaghy took to abusing the boy.

On one occasion after the youngster confided in him over his distress his dead grandfather might be in purgatory, Donaghy took advantage of him, telling the child they could help one another.

Donaghy then promised he could get the grandfather "into heaven if he helped him" and performed a sex act.

However, the abuse first began when the boy and Donaghy were alone in the school library. Donaghy asked him if he wanted to be good, before exposing himself saying: "this is one way to be good - be nice to the priest" and forced him to touch him inappropriately.

In all Donaghy, originally from Lady Wallace Drive in Lisburn, pleaded guilty, as his trial was about to begin last month, to four charges of indecently assaulting the boy and one of common assault, between January and May 1989.

Judge Kinney said while Donaghy's guilty pleas deserved credit, the former priest, who had taken advantage of his victim, claimed that he could not recall the actual abuse, showing elements of denial on his part.

He added that Donaghy was still considered a dangerous offender and posed a significant risk of serious harm to the public.  His callous and abusive treatment, of his victim, has had a lasting affect on him.

His crimes were all the more pernicious because they had involved a breach of trust of a youngster in a vulnerable position and that there had also been elements of grooming in his offending.

However, Judge Kinney said there were some indications of remorse and a recognition by Donaghy of his responsibility for what he had done. The judge said that it could only be hoped his guilty pleas would contribute and allow his victim closure to this harrowing part of his life. 

The judge also told Donaghy, who was again put on the Sex Offenders Register for life and put on the barring list and banned from working with children and vulnerable adults, had he contested the charges, he would have been jailed for four years.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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