Paedophile ex-priest sentenced to 16 years

Defrocked priest Tony Walsh pictured outside Dublin Circuit Criminal Court today where he was sentenced to 16 years for abuse. Picture: Collins Courts.

A former Dublin priest who was previously jailed for sexually abusing six boys has been sentenced to 16 years for abusing a further three victims.

Tony Walsh (aged 56) pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to two counts of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin church between November 1978 and April 1979. He pleaded guilty to a further charge of indecently assaulting a male in a west Dublin school between January 1984 and December 1985.

He was convicted by a jury last month of a further nine counts of indecent assault and five counts of buggery on the third boy between June 1, 1979 and June 30, 1983. He had denied all the charges.

Judge Frank O’Donnell called Walsh a “serial offender” who had inflicted a “life sentence” on one of his victims.

“It is difficult to imagine more reprehensible circumstances than a priest in confession setting about the sexual abuse of a young boy”, the judge said. “This is a gross breach of trust, and that’s putting it mildly.”

He sentenced Walsh to terms ranging from four to 16 years, all to run concurrently. He suspended the final four years of the 16-year term because of a report stating he was unlikely to re-offend.

Walsh was previously put on the sex offenders register and will undergo two years probation supervision on his release.

Walsh told the judge, “thank you” before being led away by prison officers.

Walsh of Bunratty Road, Coolock tied up one boy with the ropes from his vestments before raping him.

When the boy started to cry he turned up the music to drown him out. Afterwards, he told the victim he would “burn in hell for all eternity” if he told anyone what had happened.

One victim, now an adult, told the court that as a result of the abuse he became mentally ill and made his first suicide attempt at 16. While the abuse was on-going he confided to his uncle what Walsh was doing to him. His uncle then raped him.

On hearing his evidence, Judge Frank O’Donnell commended the man; “I’ve listened to you being cross-examined, you’re an absolute stalwart.”

The court heard that when one boy told his parents about the abuse they viciously beat him and asked: “How can you say that about a man of God, a man of the cloth?” They then sent him back down to Walsh who again molested him.

Walsh committed the majority of the abuse of one victim while he was at confession. Walsh would sit him on his knee and molest him before finishing the confession. On one occasion he abused the boy before taking him to see an All Priests Show where Walsh performed as an Elvis impersonator.

The court heard the now defrocked priest expressed remorse and accepted the gravity of some of his offences but still denied the most serious instances of abuse.

In 1996 he was convicted after trial of 19 counts of abusing six victims and sentenced to 10 years in prison. This was later reduced to six years on appeal.

Walsh’s defence counsel, Mr David Keane SC, said his client had been out of work since his release from prison and living alone. He submitted Walsh had not come to garda attention since and now had no connection with the church.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin later issued an apology this evening to the victims of Tony Walsh for what they endured, and for the way in which the diocese failed them.

Archbishop Martin said his thoughts are with the victims and their families this evening and he hopes the finality of the legal process will help bring them some sense of justice, healing, closure and hope for the future.

He says the Archdiocese of Dublin failed these children by being too slow in recognising that Tony Walsh was a predatory paedophile and that the diocese is committed to doing everything possible to ensure no one like him is ever allowed to minister in Dublin again.

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