Friday 24 March 2017

Notorious paedophile priest is found dead

Louise Hogan and Brendan Furlong

NOTORIOUS paedophile priest Donal Collins has been found dead in his home.

The body of Collins, who was dismissed from the priesthood in 2004, was discovered yesterday at his house in Curracloe, Co Wexford, after gardai were alerted around 3.30pm.

It is understood the former priest, who was in his late 70s, suffered from a heart condition.

Collins was cited in the Ferns report which detailed more than 100 allegations of child sexual abuse against 21 priests in the diocese between 1962 and 2002.

The report found Collins, the former principal of St Peter's College, had consistently abused boys over a 21-year period.

In 1966, the Diocese of Ferns received a complaint of abuse against Collins and he was sent to a London parish. It was alleged he inspected and measured the penises of up to 20 boys in the dormitory of St Peter's College under the pretext of checking their development.

It was treated as a "moral failure" and Collins was allowed to return to school teaching staff.

He continued to abuse a number of young boarders over a 23-year period at St Peter's College, during which he was also appointed principal.

Criticised

In the 271-page report, Mr Justice Frank Murphy was strongly critical of the decision of Bishop Donal Herlihy not to inform diocesan authorities in Westminster of the reason behind the priest's transfer.

The judge said Bishop Herlihy's decision to allow Collins return to St Peter's was "extremely ill-advised".

Bishop Brendan Comiskey received the first allegation of sexual abuse against Collins within seven months of becoming principal in 1989.

The inquiry had heard reports from past pupils and a lay teacher who said his continuing inappropriate behaviour with young boys was well known. Clerical witnesses had said they were not aware of any improper behaviour by the priest up until this point.

In March 1998 at Wexford Circuit Criminal Court, Collins pleaded guilty to four charges of gross indecent assault and a charge of indecent assault against teenage boys.

The judge sentenced him to four years' imprisonment on each charge. He was released from Curragh Prison having served just one year on the grounds of ill health.

The body of the now defrocked priest was yesterday removed by ambulance to Wexford General Hospital where a post-mortem was being carried out.

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News