independent

Saturday 16 December 2017

Eight years for former priest Nolan

Denis Nolan guilty of raping boy he paid to do gardening jobs

Former priest Denis Nolan
Former priest Denis Nolan

A former priest who raped a child he had paid to do his gardening has received an eight-year prison sentence.

Denis Nolan (64), formerly of The Presbytery, Rathnew, Co Wicklow, is already serving a sentence for sexually abusing a different child and has since been defrocked.

Last March, a jury at the Central Criminal Court convicted him of six counts of oral rape, defilement and sexual assault in his home between 2005 and 2006. The victim was aged between 10 and eleven at the time.

Nolan, who had served on the board of management of a local school, had denied the charges.

On Monday last, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy imposed sentences of eight years for the rape offences and sentences of four years for the other. These will run concurrently from the date his current sentence ends.

The sentence Nolan is currently serving is for the persistent defilement and sexual assault of another boy, described as a 'successor' to this victim, between 2007 and 2012.

Mr Justice McCarthy said the victim was quite clearly groomed. He described this is as 'a most grave breach of trust' on Nolan's part.

The former priest gave the victim the opportunity to work in his garden and the garden of the presbytery. He paid the victim €10 or €15 in general for his work in the garden, but this amount increased once the abuse began.

The court heard that the then priest initially made inappropriate remarks about whether or not the victim was entering puberty, and encouraged him to look up sexual subjects online. This progressed to fondling and then to oral rape and sexual assault in the bedroom of the priest's house.

The boy was subsequently raped and sexually assaulted on a number of occasions, three times in the presbytery in Co Wicklow and once in a car near the priest's house.

The court heard that the final rape in a presbytery injured the boy, causing him a lot of pain and leading to an operation and continuing health problems.

The abuse finally came to light as a result of the victim having significant problems as a student, and because of the health problems that resulted from the rapes.

In a victim impact statement read out in court on his behalf, the now 24-year-old said the abuse he had suffered at the hands of the priest had a traumatic impact on his life.

He said he could not manage without the support of others and his medication, and that it felt 'almost impossible' to take control of his life.

He said he suffered greatly from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, panic and fear and said that many times on a weekly basis, he felt he would be 'better off dead'.

The court heard he finds it difficult to hold down a job or to function on a day-to-day basis, and that he avoids his friends and social events because he feels he 'just doesn't fit in'.

'I cannot get the thoughts of what happened to me out of my head. It fills me with fear. Sometimes I feel I have no power in my body to move,' he wrote, adding that that he could not sleep because of flashbacks and traumatic nightmares.

'When I look in the mirror I hate my body and I hate myself,' he wrote, adding that he was filled with worry and confusion about whether he would ever be able to have an intimate relationship.

He said his sister had had to move schools as a result of being bullied 'about me being with the priest' and that his parents were also constantly stressed about it.

The victim said because of the rape, he had to have surgery to try and fix bleeding and 'severe pain and stinging'.

'I wanted to study to be an equine vet. I wanted to see myself travelling and being able to form a relationship and live a normal life,' he said, but added that because of the abuse, he didn't feel able to "physically or mentally" take charge of his life.

Conor McKenna BL, defending, said that through his own actions, Nolan was a now destitute man. He said his client was ordained in 1979 and had no complaints against him until these matters came to light. He was laicised and his house was sold by his family, from whom he is estranged.

A governor's report from Midlands Prison had said the accused was on an 'enhanced privilege regime' and was putting his time in prison to some good use by taking part in various classes and courses.

On his release Nolan will be placed on post-release supervision and required to obey the instructions of a probation officer for a period of four years.

Conor Devally SC, prosecuting, told the court that while the victim did not wish to be named, he would allow all other details of the case to be reported.

Wicklow People

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