Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Priest told boy he 'wouldn't go to Heaven' if abuse reported

Independent.ie
Priest told boy he 'wouldn't go to Heaven' if abuse reported
By Conor Gallagher
Wednesday July 14 2010

A SEX offender priest at the centre of a section of the Murphy Report that was controversially edited was jailed yesterday for 15 months on 10 counts of child sex abuse.

Patrick Hughes (82) told his victim he would make sure he wouldn't go to Heaven if he told anyone what he did to him.

The pervert priest was subject to investigation by the Murphy Commission into clerical sex abuse in the Dublin Diocese -- but a chapter on his crimes was not published as he was facing multiple child sex- abuse charges and its publication could have prejudiced the then-pending criminal proceedings.

Yesterday's sentencing comes just months after Hughes was jailed for one year for a similar offence of sexually abusing an altar boy.

The court heard he "targeted and bullied" his 10-year-old victim, telling him he would make sure he had a miserable life and that he would go to Hell. In between the abuse he would make him pose for pictures in women's underwear which he would use to blackmail him into silence.

The court heard the boy's parents reported the abuse to Hughes's superiors in 1974 but that nothing followed from this. In a victim impact report, the now 49-year-old victim said Hughes was "so monstrous it was not possible to describe him in words".

He said he had been stonewalled by the church and blackmailed by the accused into silence. He said the abuse "destroyed his innocence and destroyed his life" and he has not been able to hold down a job as a direct result.

Traumatic

As a result of the legislation in effect at the time, Hughes faced a maximum of two years in prison for the offences. Judge Katherine Delahunt ordered the 15-month sentence to start immediately, meaning it will be partially concurrent with the one-year term he is serving.

She said the victim's report made for traumatic reading and it was clear Hughes had affected his life greatly. She also commended the victim and his parents for their courage in reporting the abuse.

Judge Delahunt said the abuse seemed more significant than the previous case but took into account Hughes's age and his payment of €50,000 in compensation to the victim in 1993.

Hughes, of Park Drive Court, Castleknock, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 10 counts of indecent assault at various Dublin locations between February 14, 1970, and February 13, 1974.

In evidence, Detective Sergeant Joseph McLoughlin had told prosecuting counsel Pieter Le Vert that the abuse first started after the victim applied to be an altar boy in a church on the Navan Road, Dublin, where Hughes served at the time.

Informed

When the boy told his parents of the abuse in 1974, they in turn informed Hughes's parish priest and his monsignor but nothing resulted from this.

In 1993, the victim brought a civil case against Hughes which was settled out of court for €50,000. Shortly afterwards gardai investigated the case but the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that no charges should be brought.

In 2002, Hughes learnt he was to be featured on an RTE 'Prime Time' documentary and fled to England.

Gardai tracked him down there, where he was living under a false name, to interview him about allegations from another victim. During the interview he admitted to abusing both boys but later claimed he was "tricked into this".

He returned to Ireland because he "didn't have much time left" and was looking for "some sort of peace".

Defence counsel Remy Farrell submitted that Hughes expressed remorse and shame. He asked Judge Delahunt to take account of his age and relatively early guilty plea.

The Murphy Report case will come back before the court in October when Mr Justice Paul Gilligan will decide if the reporting restrictions can be lifted and the final two chapters published.

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