A paedophile priest who was a serial sex abuser for almost 20 years has walked free from court with a gloating smile.
Daniel John Curran, 68, was ordered to complete 200 hours of community work for sexually abusing a boy more than 20 years ago.
Sentencing Curran, Judge Piers Grant warned him, however, that if any further offences came to light, the community service order was no indication “that you will not receive a custodial sentence” for them.
He told the court given the fact that Curran has already served significant custodial sentences for similar offences, he was of the view that had his case been dealt with at the same time, it would not have made a material difference to the sentence.
Judge Grant told the disgraced former priest, in court facing sex abuse charges for the sixth time, his offending was a “gross breach of position and trust on your part”.
He said it was well recognised in both Northern Ireland and the Republic that priests and other clergy were held in a “high degree of reverence, respect and in many cases, fear,” so as a group they “enjoyed considerable power and influence”.
But the judge added, however, that “you and others wickedly, sinfully and by your professed moral standards, dishonestly took advantage” of that trust, respect and power.
“Regrettably the very considerable amount of sexual abuse, cruelty and dishonesty perpetrated by priests and other clergy that has come to light in recent years has demonstrated the extent to which that belief was wrong and such trust misplaced,” the judge said.
Judge Grant said that in many respects what “innocent children” heard and perceived from parents and adult families about their priests led them to feel “that they could not question” what the likes of Curran were doing, and that this attitude “may explain the delay on the part of so many victims in opening up about the abuse which they suffered at your hands.”
He said while he had no victim impact report, he was satisfied and the defence accept the abuse Curran forced on his victim had caused severe damage.
At an earlier hearing Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to a single charge of indecently assaulting a male child on a date unknown between January 2 and 6 1991.
Prosecuting lawyer James Johnston had told the court that following a similar pattern to his previous offences, Curran had taken his victim, who was then just 12-years-old, and two other boys to his family cottage near Tyrella in Co Down.