Sunday 18 March 2018

‘Singing Priest’ gets 15 months extra in jail for more abuse of boys

Declan Brennan

A former priest who is serving a 16-year sentence for the rape and abuse of school boys has had 15 months added to this sentence for abusing two other boys in the 70s and 80s.

Tony Walsh, who was known as the “Singing Priest”, is due to have the entirety of his sentence reviewed by the Court of Criminal Appeal next month.

Walsh (59) formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecent assault on January 01 and April 4, 1979. The victims were aged between ten and 11.

Judge Martin Nolan said that Walsh had worked his way into the confidence of the families of the two victims with “cold-blooded intent”. He said the sexual assaults were aggressive and incredibly frightening for the children involved.

He said that the abuse has had serious and long term effects on the victims.

Remy Farrell SC, defending, said that Walsh had already received a substantial sentence of 16 years for other offences and that it would be unduly punitive to add to this sentence.

Judge Nolan disagreed and said he would “unusually” impose a sentence consecutive to the existing prison term in order to recognise the seriousness of the offences and the harm Walsh had done. He said that the latest sentence should go before the Court of Criminal Appeal next month when Walsh’s current sentence is appealed.

Garda John Barrett told Vincent Heneghan BL, prosecuting, that the first victim was aged 11 when Walsh caught him eating sweets outside the church before taking Holy Communion.

The boy told the priest he was having a “mixed grill” and this comment angered Walsh. Walsh took the boy into the priest's house and abused him.

The victim told gardai later that he didn't understand what was happening and that afterwards he pulled away in total terror and started crying.

Walsh told him that his parents would not believe him if he told them. The abuse only came to light in 2008 during bereavement counselling after the victim's father had died.

The second victim was aged around ten or 11 when Walsh abused him on Good Friday 1979. The boy knew Walsh was involved in the “All Priests Show” and was excited to be offered a chance to travel in the priest's white BMW one afternoon.

He said he felt special to have been picked for the treat and thought they were going to visit some other friends. Instead Walsh took the boy to the Parochial House.

He put the boy on his lap and sexually assaulted him. The boy was struggling to get away but Walsh kept pulling him back. The victim said he felt confused and didn't know what to do.

After the assault Walsh took the boy to a nearby hotel and bought him a drink and a fry-up.

The victim didn't tell his mother about the abuse until he was 14. He did however tell her about the hotel visit and she was shocked that the priest had bought a fry on Good Friday.

Remy Farrell SC, defending, said his client was in his mid 20s when he carried out these offences. He said he apologised to his victims and had entered an early plea of guilty in both cases.

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