Repeat offender paedophile priest admits sex abuse

Daniel John Curran leaves Downpatrick Courthouse after Monday's hearing
Daniel John Curran leaves Downpatrick Courthouse after Monday's hearing

A convicted paedophile priest has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy almost 30 years ago.

His appearance at Downpatrick Crown Court is the sixth time 68-year-old Daniel John Curran has faced sex abuse charges.

Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, confirmed his personal details while defence counsel Noel Dillon confirmed he had been “fully advised about the issue of credit” for pleading guilty at an early stage.

The court clerk having put the charge to him, that of indecent assault on a date unknown between January 2-6 1991, Curran said simply that he was “guilty”.

In applying for bail pending sentence, Mr Dillon revealed that sentences for Curran’s previous convictions resulted in jail sentences totalling 16 years “either immediate or suspended”.

Having confirmed to Judge Piers Grant that Curran had a record for similar offences, he reminded the judge that he last dealt with the pensioner in March 2015 when he handed him a suspended jail sentence.

Ordering a pre-sentence report and listing the sentencing hearing for September 6, Judge Grant said it was “with some hesitation” that he would free Curran but warned that his decision “should not be interpreted as any idication that a non-custodial sentence will be imposed”.

Leaving court a few minutes later, Curran kept his head down as he was verbally abused by a man outside the court.

In the 2015 case, Curran pleaded guilty to one count of gross indecency towards a male child and a further count of indecent assault in offences which took place between August 1990 and August 1993 at a cottage owned by his family in the seaside village of Tyrella, Co Down.

The court heard the victim was aged between seven and 10 when Curran plied him with alcohol before getting into bed with him.

The victim was a pupil of a north Belfast primary school when Curran came to the school in his role and asked him if he wanted to serve as an altar boy at St Paul’s Church on the Falls Road.

That led to the boy going on a number of trips and one such trip was to the cottage in Tyrella where Curran drank cider with the victim and other boys before they all got into the only bed in the property, and it was there that Curran sexually abused the victim.

The first case against Curran was in 1995 when he was jailed for seven years in custody.

In 2005, he received an 18-month sentence suspended for three years.

In 2006 the paedophile priest was handed a 14-month sentence while in 2012 he received a four-year sentence which was later reduced to three years by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal heard that in a 16-year campaign of abuse spanning three decades from 1977 to 1993, Curran had abused more than a dozen boys, many of them altar boys from his then Falls Road parish who, with the blessing of their parents, were taken to the Tyrella cottage where they were then abused.