Thursday 12 December 2019

Convicted cleric gets suspended sentence

Elaine Keogh

CONVICTED sex offender Fr Ronald Bennett (75), who admitted he indecently assaulted a schoolboy during 'sex education' lessons, avoided jail yesterday.

He was handed a two-and-a- half-year jail sentence, which was suspended with a number of conditions, and his name will be added to the sex offenders' register for 10 years.

Bennett was a former sports master and spiritual adviser at Gormanston College in Co Meath, where the boy was a pupil at the time of the offences in 1973 and 1974.

Trim Circuit Court had previously heard that Bennett, who now lives in a friary in Killiney, Co Dublin, had been jailed in 2007 for two-and-a-half years by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for indecently assaulting four other boys at the college.

State prosecutor Karl Hanahoe said that the offences had taken place on a weekly basis over a two-year period when the boy was aged 14 and 15.

The victim told Judge Donagh McDonagh he made his complaint after reading reports that Bennett had been given a five-year suspended sentence by Dublin Circuit Criminal Court for the offences against the other four boys.

"It caused me a lot of anger."

The DPP had subsequently appealed the suspended five-year sentence and the Court of Criminal Appeal ordered Bennett to serve two-and-a-half years of it with the balance suspended.

Judge McDonagh said that the appropriate sentence in the current case was two-and-a-half years and suspended it on a number of conditions, including that Bennett gave an undertaking to remain within the confines of the Franciscan friary for the next five years.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News