Former “singing priest” Tony Walsh, aged 62, faces a maximum sentence of two years in prison for raping a boy with a crucifix, a court has heard.
Walsh committed the offence and two other rapes of the same victim before the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act came into effect in 1990. It means the maximum penalty a judge can impose on each offence is two years.
He is charged with indecent assault as it was the offence which existed at the time. He forced the child to have sex twice, once in the parochial house and on another occasion in a tunnel under the Phoenix Park.
Walsh told the jury, during the trial last month, he never knew the boy and never assaulted him.
Formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin 7, he had pleaded not
guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of indecently assaulting the boy on dates between January 1980 and December 1982. The boy was aged between 10 and 13 years old at the time of the abuse.
The jury returned verdicts of guilty on all counts after approximately one hour of deliberation.
Garda Tara Corrigan yesterday told Fiona McGowan, prosecuting, Walsh has 17 previous convictions from 1995 to 2015 for indecently assaulting young boys and one girl. He had fought two trials and pleaded guilty to the other offences. He is currently serving a sentence, and not due for release until 2021.
Judge Elma Sheahan adjourned the case to allow Ciaran O’Loughlin, defending, submit relevant case law. Mr O’Loughlin submitted as the victim had made a statement to gardaí in April 2011, it could have been dealt with the same time as Walsh’s most recent case in 2015. He suggested there was a likelihood the judge would have imposed a concurrent term at the time.
During the trial, Walsh said his offending in relation to children started in 1980 and continued to 1986.
A number of the children told their families and he was called in by the Archbishop in 1986. He was sent for six months treatment in the UK and later made a hospital chaplain.
He said he first came to Garda attention in 1995 in relation to one incident. In 1997 he pleaded guilty to offences involving five boys in the period 1980 to 1986. He was sent to prison for 10 years initially but it was reduced to six years on appeal. He was released in 2002.
In 2010, he pleaded guilty in two further cases and not guilty in one case but was convicted by a jury.
He said that in 2002, four months after his release “like a bolt out of the blue” he was featured on a TV programme Cardinal Sins
“I was stunned because I had served my time” he told the court. “There was no re-offending, whatsoever, and suddenly I was back into the law and the courts.”
The victim told the jury Walsh, on the first occasion, had sat him on his knee and pulled him backwards with a gyrating motion.
On further occasions, Walsh sat him on his knee and pulled down his trousers and underwear before fondling his genitalia.
He also recalled being bent over a sofa by Walsh and assaulted, while on another day he felt something being put inside him and, afterwards, saw a crucifix on the ground.
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