'Good Samaritan' priest forgives criminal who robbed house
A PRIEST has spoken of his decision to forgive a criminal who stole £500 from him during Christmas week after the cleric had taken pity on him and given him a bed for the night in his parochial house.
Donegal native Fr Paddy O'Kane visited Ciaran Hogan (28) in prison after the robbery and pleaded with him to turn his life around.
Yesterday, Hogan from the Ballyarnett area of Derry city, was jailed for six months at the local Magistrate's Court.
He had 59 previous criminal convictions, including 22 for burglaries.
After he was arrested for stealing the money from Fr O'Kane, he wrote to the priest from prison, asking for forgiveness.
Fr O'Kane, who is currently parish priest of the Holy Family Parish in the Ballymagroarty area of Derry, visited Hogan in Maghaberry Prison and during the visit Hogan asked him to withdraw his statement to the police.
"I refused as I wasn't going to lie to anyone. I then told him about God's love and mercy for him. I pleaded with him to turn his life around and this ended with a prayer together and I told him I forgave him" Fr O'Kane said.
In his statement to the police Fr O'Kane said Hogan arrived at his parochial house at 5am on December 18, 2011, in a distressed state and threatening suicide.
"I invited him in for a cup of tea to chat with him further. I was afraid that if he left my home he would commit suicide so I offered him a bed and showed him to a spare room", his statement said.
Fr. O'Kane said the following day after Hogan had left the parochial house, he noticed that £500 was missing from a drawer in his office and he then contacted the police.
A prosecution solicitor told Deputy District Judge Sean O'Hare that Hogan, who had a distinctive tattoo in the name "Ciaran" on his left arm, was arrested the following day.
He initially denied his involvement in the theft but minutes before his contested case was due to take place yesterday, he pleaded guilty.
Fr O'Kane had written a letter in the media about the situation and stated that he felt his Good Samaritan attitude had been thrown back in his face, the solicitor said.