Thursday 30 October 2014

Court of Criminal Appeal reserves judgement on appeal by 'Singing priest' and serial child abuser Tony Walsh

Published 19/03/2014 | 16:11

Walsh, who was known as the “Singing Priest” for his role in a travelling all-priest vocal group before he was defrocked, is serving a 16-year sentence imposed on him in 2010 for the rape and abuse of three school boys.

The Court of Criminal Appeal has reserved judgment in the case of former priest and serial child abuser Tony Walsh, who is appealing against separate sentences of 16 years and 15 months imposed on him for the rape and sexual abuse of young boys in the nineteen seventies and eighties.

Walsh, who was known as the “Singing Priest” for his role in a travelling all-priest vocal group before he was defrocked, is serving a 16-year sentence imposed on him in 2010 for the rape and abuse of three school boys.

The 59-year-old had pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin church between November 1978 and April 1979.

He pleaded guilty to a further charge of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin school between January 1984 and December 1985.

He was convicted by a jury in November 2010 of a further nine counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery on the third boy between June 1, 1979 and June 30, 1983

He had denied the charges.

Last year Walsh had 15 months added to this sentence for abusing two other boys.

Walsh, formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecent assault on January 1 and April 4, 1979. The victims were aged between ten and 11.

In 1997 Walsh was convicted of abusing six victims and sentenced to ten years in prison. This was later reduced to six years on appeal.

Moving the appeal yesterday, counsel for Walsh, Remy Farrell SC, said he hadn't set out to make it an issue of guilt or innocence by the back door and argued for a reduction in his client's sentences.

He said a comment by the then sentencing judge that Walsh had fought his case tooth and nail gave rise to an error.

Referring to case law, counsel said it seemed to penalise somebody for exercising their right not to plead guilty.

Mr Farrell also asked the court to consider an appropriate sentence in respect of an offence that no longer existed, that being the offence of buggery.

Counsel for the DPP, Mary Rose Gearty SC, said Walsh had engaged in a long campaign of offending from the nineteen-seventies right up to the nineteen-eighties.

She said Walsh was sentenced last year for abusing by two new complainants and that each of his convictions involved a separate tranche of victims. Therefor, she said, it could not be argued that his sentences were cumulative as had been argued by Mr Farrell.

Mr Justice John Murray, presiding alongside Mr Justice John Edwards and Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy said the court would reserve its decision to a later date.

A decision by the court will be made at a later date.

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