Priest Peter Donnelly not guilty of abusing girl in '80s
A former curate at St Matthew's Catholic Church in Belfast walked free from court after he was found not guilty by a jury on the direction of the trial judge.
The jury was sworn in at Belfast Crown Court to try Father Peter Donnelly, from Drumaroad Hill, Castlewellan, for allegedly sexually abusing a girl in the parochial house of the church in east Belfast over a five-year period.
Donnelly (71) was charged with six counts of indecently assaulting the girl and a further count of gross indecency with the girl.
He denied all the charges, which were alleged to have taken place between 1983 and 1988.
Two previous juries in the case were unable to reach a verdict on the charges against Fr Donnelly.
After the third jury was sworn in, prosecuting barrister Kate McKay told Judge Gordon Kerr QC: "The Crown is not offering any evidence in this case.''
Judge Kerr QC said that as a result of the prosecution decision, he was directing the jury of nine men and three women to acquit Fr Donnelly of all the charges.
The trial judge said: "You are now free to go Fr Donnelly."