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Thursday 17 October 2019

Priest who assisted child rape to appeal sentence

Irish priest Father Jerry McGrath leaving Liverpool Crown Court
Irish priest Father Jerry McGrath leaving Liverpool Crown Court

Fergus Black

AN IRISH priest sentenced to five years in prison for aiding the rape of a young girl is to appeal his sentence.

Kerry-born parish priest Fr Jeremiah McGrath (64) gave stg£20,000 (€30,000) to convicted child rapist William Adams to help groom the 12-year-old for sex.

Having bought her silence and trust, Adams (38), originally from Belfast but latterly of Bootle, Merseyside, England, raped her repeatedly over a six-month period in 2005. Adams was given a life sentence after pleading guilty to rape and abuse of the child.

Yesterday, McGrath, a member of St Patrick's Missionary Society, Kiltegan, Co Wicklow, was handed a five-year jail sentence at Liverpool Crown Court after being found guilty of facilitating the abuse.

He has worked in Dublin and in the Clogher diocese and spent 18 years as a missionary in Nigeria.

The priest, who wore his clerical collar throughout the trial, insisted he had no idea that Adams was abusing the girl and claimed the cash transfers were linked to his gambling habit.

Sentencing McGrath, Judge Brian Lewis described his behaviour as "evasive, disingenuous and utterly insincere". He said he had tried to minimise his part in the crimes and had shown no remorse.

As well as the jail term, the former parish priest has been ordered to pay stg£5,000 (€7,000) in costs.

Last night St Patrick's Missionary Society said it could not comment on the sentence. A spokesperson said that, because McGrath was appealing his conviction, St Patrick's and the Clogher diocese, on legal advice, would not be making any further comment.

Last month, after McGrath had been convicted, Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher diocese described it as a "very sad and tragic case".

As soon as the allegations came to light, he added, McGrath had been suspended from ministry, the diocese had cooperated fully with the police investigation and his future as a priest would be considered.

In a statement welcoming the sentences, the girl's family said they had been deeply traumatised by "the lengthy investigation into these heinous crimes which were carried out by these two evil individuals". Their trust had been broken by the "evil" priest who was a friend and visitor to their home.

"Fr Jeremiah McGrath had full knowledge that Billy Adams was a convicted child rapist and was aware of the serious danger posed by Billy Adams to all children."

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