Saturday 18 November 2017

'Singing Priest' gets extra 15 months' jail for abuse of boys

Declan Brennan

A FORMER priest who is serving 16 years for the rape and abuse of schoolboys has had 15 months added to his sentence for abusing two other boys in the '70s and '80s.

Tony Walsh, who was known as the 'Singing Priest', is also 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 1 and April 4, 1979. The victims were aged between 10 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.

EFFECTS

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

Walsh (Tony) Jailed for 15 months for indecent assault, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, 7-6-13.
Most recent file pic shows: Former priest Tony Walsh (56), formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, who yesterday (Fri.) wad jailed for 15 months for two counts of indecent assault on two boys aged 10 and 11 in January and April, 1979.
Pic: Courtpix
Walsh (Tony) Jailed for 15 months for indecent assault, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, 7-6-13. Most recent file pic shows: Former priest Tony Walsh (56), formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin, who yesterday (Fri.) wad jailed for 15 months for two counts of indecent assault on two boys aged 10 and 11 in January and April, 1979. Pic: Courtpix

Remy Farrell, 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 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, 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 sat him on his lap. He told him that his parents would be angry at him for not going to Mass. He then pulled the boy's trousers and pants down and abused the boy.

The victim told gardai later that he didn't understand what was happening. 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 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.

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 touched him.

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.

SUPPORT

Mr Farrell 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.

After the hearing, Angela Copley, from Revive, a Ballyfermot-based support group for victims of clerical sex abuse, said that most of the victims they helped were victims of Walsh.

She said: "He broke the trust of families, went into homes, took their children, took their innocence, took their childhood, destroyed them.

"There are lads in Palmerstown cemetery, because of Tony Walsh, who never got justice. It's heartbreaking for a community like Ballyfermot. Their mothers would have all put so much trust in the church."

She said: "He will never suffer the way the victims have suffered.

"Most of Tony Walsh's victims are still in counselling."

Irish Independent

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