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Pervert priest robbed me of my childhood, says victim

A FORMER parish priest has been jailed for seven years for the "cold and calculating" sexual abuse of a young boy.

Denis Nolan (61) was convicted of "systematically" abusing his victim over five years starting when he was just 12 years of age.

There were emotional scenes in a Wicklow court yesterday as the victim fought back tears as he witnessed his abuser being sentenced.

John Paul Hunter (19) bravely waived his anonymity as he recalled being subjected to horrendous abuse in the priest's car, home and church in Rathnew, Co Wicklow.

PREDATOR

Nolan, with an address at 10 Carrigmore, Tinahely, pleaded guilty to sexual assault at 10 Carrigmore, Tinahely, Co Wicklow, on a date between January 1, 2007, and June 30, 2007.

He also pleaded guilty to five counts of defilement of a child under the age of 15 years between July 1, 2007, and August 25, 2009 and five counts of defilement of a child under the age of 17 years between August 26, 2009, and August 25, 2011. All defilement charges occurred in the Presbytery, Rathnew where Nolan was parish priest at the time.

Judge Michael O'Shea told Wicklow circuit court that Nolan was in a "position of trust" and that he should have been a protector of young John Paul and not a predator.

"He was just a child – innocent in the ways of the world," the judge said. He added the abuse was "cold and calculating". Mr Hunter, now a young dance teacher, said the priest "stole my childhood".

"I don't have confidence any more," he said. "But I just don't want anyone else to live the type of life I had."

Detective Sgt Fergus O'Brien told the court that Mr Hunter was 12 years old when he approached the local parish priest, Nolan, with a view to carrying out some odd jobs to gain extra money.

Nolan soon asked him to go to his family home in Tinahely and while there grabbed Mr Hunter by the testicles and penis and said it was "what adults do". On arrival back in Rathnew he gave him €10.

The abuse escalated to the point of both men stripping naked and oral sex taking place. The money given to Mr Hunter by Nolan also increased to €40.

Mr Hunter's mother Theresa Stafford confronted Nolan but he said he had been giving him money because he was afraid of her son.

In a victim impact statement from Mr Hunter read out by Detective Sgt O'Brien, Mr Hunter said he blamed himself for the abuse and said Nolan "made me think it was alright".

"He made me feel small and I let people mentally and physically walk over me," he said.

HORRIFIC

Acting for Nolan, Seamus Breen BL said the priest was ashamed of his actions and said "the event was life-changing for the injured party, his family and the parish he served for 15 years".

The judge sentenced Nolan to seven years' for each of the five charges of defilement of a child under the age of 15 and sentenced him to three-and-a-half years on each of the remaining six charges with the sentences running concurrently.

The Catholic Church last night said the horrific case had "distressed" Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. In a statement, it said that Nolan was removed from duty after a complaint, not related to yesterday's proceedings, was received.

NOCONNOR@HERALD.IE


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