Gardaí attempting to investigate the abuse of an alter boy by a priest were “given the run around by Church authorities” in their efforts to locate the accused man for questioning.
Detective Sergeant Joseph McLoughlin told Judge Katherine Delahunt at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that gardaí located the accused on a tip off more than 10 years after first being made aware of the allegations.
The elderly man, who can not be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to four counts of indecent assault against the boy, who was aged between 11 and 14 years old, on dates between 1979 and 1983.
Judge Delahunt adjourned sentencing until early next year. The maximum sentence for this offence is two years' imprisonment.
Det Sgt McLoughlin told Mr Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that the boy was abused by the man in the priest’s home, on trips to the beach and in his car. The abuse consisted of fondling the boy’s genital area. The priest also took photographs of the boy in swimwear and showed him “mild” porn.
The boy also reported the priest giving him £5 on one occasion and taking locks of his hair.
Det Sgt McLoughlin said the boy’s mother asked him some years later if he had been abused and he broke down and told her what had happened to him.
He told Mr Remy Farrell BL, defending, during cross examination, that an complaint was made to the gardaí in 1995 but that the investigation “ran into the sand”.
He said the victim contacted the Garda Commissioner in 2002 to check on the status of the case but efforts to locate the accused man proved fruitless.
Det Sgt McLoughlin agreed with Mr Farrell that gardaí were “getting the run around from Church authorities”.
He said they were initially unable locate the accused man through the Archbishop’s Palace but a “liaison priest” contacted him in 2003 and said the accused wished to speak to gardaí. He said that a few days before the meeting was to take place he received a call to say the accused would not be attending.
He said that was the last that he heard about the accused man’s location and efforts to find him were unsuccessful until gardaí received a tip off and made contact with the man in 2007.
Det Sgt McLoughlin said the accused, who has no previous convictions, told gardaí that he remembered the boy and admitted touching him inappropriately. He said his memory was not great and he expressed remorse.