Wednesday 16 August 2017

Man wins compensation 30 years after his ordeal

Phil Campion

A MAN who was subjected to horrific sexual abuse at the hands of a notorious Irish priest more than three decades ago has finally been awarded compensation for his ordeal.

The 46-year-old man, who can be identified only as Maga, was one of several victims abused by the late Fr Christopher Clonan, who served at the Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King in Coventry, England, during the mid-1970s.

He had groomed the boy by paying him for domestic chores.

Clonan, originally from Clonard, Co Meath, fled Britain for Ireland in 1992 when eight former altar boys accused him of molesting them.

He is said to have spent time in a psychiatric hospital in Dublin. Clonan then made his way to a former gold-rush town in Australia to live with his brother for a year before going to the Philippines.

He later died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 56.

The Catholic Church has paid out to other victims of Clonan. But it has argued that Maga was not a Catholic and that he was abused by Clonan when he had no connection to his role as a priest.

Its argument was that Maga at no time had anything to do with the church itself, other than doing some cleaning work.

Last year Mr Justice Jack of the UK's high court said he was satisfied some sexual abuse occurred but ruled it would not be fair to hold the church liable.

However, the court of appeal has allowed Maga's appeal on vicarious liability and dismissed the church's cross-appeal.

Predatory

The court heard that, as Clonan appeared to have been a "predatory sexual abuser of boys", it was not unlikely that Maga's evidence was true.

The Roman Catholic Church in Birmingham was ordered to pay £32,500 (€36,186) in damages.

Maga, who has learning difficulties and has never worked, only complained about the abuse in 2006 after he heard that another man had recovered compensation from the church for abuse suffered from Clonan.

A landmark court case in June 1995 awarded £600,000 (€668,000) compensation to one of Clonan's victims.

Later, when doubts about his death arose, Clonan's brother produced a death certificate to show he had died on October 22, 1988.

But Australian and British police together with Interpol relaunched a hunt for him in July 2003 when a number of people came forward saying they believed he was still alive.

Irish Independent

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