June 2018

Paedophile priest pleads guilty to abusing boy

A convicted paedophile priest has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing a boy more than 20 years ago, as he faced such charges for a sixth time.

Daniel John Curran, 68 and from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, Co Down, appeared before Downpatrick Crown Court on Monday.

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

Judge Piers Grant heard that Curran’s previous convictions had resulted in jail sentences, either immediate or suspended, totalling 16 years.

Ordering a pre-sentence report and listing the sentencing hearing for 6 September, the judge said it was “with some hesitation” that he would free Curran on bail.

But he warned that his decision “should not be interpreted as any indication 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.

March 2015

Paedophile priest handed suspended sentence for sex assault on boy (7)

Daniel Curran

A disgraced former Catholic priest received an 18 month suspended prison sentence for what a judge described as “a significant and grievous breach of trust” for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy in his care.

Daniel Curran, 64 and of Bryansford Avenue, Newcastle, appeared in the dock of the Downpatrick Crown Court on Monday for sentencing after he pleaded guilty to one count of gross indecency towards a male child and also admitted a single charge of indecent assault on the same victim.

The offences took place between August 1990 and August 1993 at a cottage owned by his family in Co Down when the victim was aged between seven and 10.

Passing sentence, Judge Piers Grant told Curran that he had pleaded guilty to “serious offences” by “deliberately targeting groups of individuals” to ply them with alcohol so he could abuse them in the family cottage.

Prosecution QC David McDowell told the court that the victim was a pupil of a primary school in north Belfast and at the age of seven, Curran came to the school in his role as a priest and asked him if he wanted to serve as an altar boy.

The young boy then started to go on trips with a number of other older boys and they would have barbecues and also go to Castlewellan.

He said he was “flattered by the invitation” to go on these trips.

Mr McDowell said that Curran took the boys to a family cottage in Tyrella, a small seaside village just a few miles outside of Downpatrick.

“The victim describes that the house had one bedroom which had one massive bed and all the boys slept together in the bed with Fr Curran.

“On this occasion there were three older boys with him and Fr Curran provided the older boys with cider and they in turn gave it to the complainant.

“Fr Curran was drinking the cider with them.

“He later woke to find that Fr Curran had moved in the bed and Fr Curran was lying behind in a spoons position.”

The victim, who is now aged 31, told police that Curran then indecently assaulted him and the priest also forced him to sexually touch him.

“The complainant said he made an excuse that he needed the toilet, to which Fr Curran replied: ‘You have been a good boy’.

“He then went outside through the front door to go to the toilet in the rain. He described being cold, wet and crying but had nowhere else to go.

“He got back into bed but there was no further touching. Fr Curran then drove them back home the next day.”

The offences came to light in March 2014 when the victim told his wife about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Curran.

“He explained to her that he felt that the time was right to tell what had happened to him. It is apparent the victim is a very private person and didn’t want to take part in a victim impact report for these proceedings.”

Mr McDowell QC told the court that Curran had “breached the great trust in which his parents had placed in him by allowing their son to go with Fr Curran”.

The judge was told that Curran was interviewed in August 2014 about the latest complaint that he had sexually abused a seven-year-old altar boy in the cottage.

“He told police that he didn’t think that there had been one as young as that in the house,” added the prosecution QC.

Noel Dillon, defending, said that Curran was remorseful for his conduct even though he has no recollection of the incident.

“He could not remember it all. He is not saying that he had committed these offences or saying that he had not committed these offences.

“It is simply that he cannot remember because at that time he was an alcoholic and alcohol was a large factor in what happened.

“He can only imagine the awful damage he has done to this boy and offers his apology to this boy.”

Judge Grant said that it was the fifth time Curran had been convicted and sentenced for his “serious and significant offending” towards children who had been placed in his care as a priest by their parents.

The judge also praised the courage of the complainant in coming forward to the police after “attempting to put this matter behind him”.

He added: “One can only hope that having come forward after all these years that this will have a cathartic effect to help him to get over and deal with what occurred and what should not have happened to him in the first place.”

Although Curran was assessed a “low risk of reoffending”, Judge Grant said the aggravating factors were that there was “very high culpability” on Curran’s part because of the “significant and grievous breach of trust on behalf of this defendant” and the harm caused towards his victim was “considerable”.

The judge said that the mitigating factors in favour of Curran was his guilty plea, that there had been no reoffending since 1995, he had sought therapeutic treatment for his alcohol problems, he had not taken alcohol since his offences first came to light and had complied with supervision orders which had “kept him under proper control”.

Stating that Curran had received prison sentences totalling 13 years and 8 months for previous sexual assaults on children, Judge Grant said: “I take the view that the appropriate sentence for each of these offences is 18 months in custody but given the totality principle, I will suspended those sentences for three years.”

No further orders were made against Curran as he is currently the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) and is on the sex offenders’ register for life.

March 2015

Ex-priest Daniel Curran admits sex assault on boy (7)

A seven-year-old boy fell victim to a paedophile priest after the clergyman went to his primary school and asked him to become an altar boy, a court has heard.

 

March 2015

Notorious paedophile Catholic priest pleads guilty to more offences of child sexual abuse

Fr Daniel Curran, 64, Bryansford Avenue, Newcastle, Co Down, appeared at Downpatrick Crown Court.

Defence counsel Jim Gallagher QC asked Judge Piers Grant that Curran be rearraigned on two charges he faced dating back almost 25 years.

Curran, dressed in a long green overcoat and wearing glasses, pleaded guilty to one count of gross indecency towards a male child and also admitted a single charge of indecent assault on the same victim who is now aged 31.

The offences took place between August 1990 and August 1993 at a cottage owned by his family in the seaside village of Tyrella, Co Down when the victim was aged between seven and 10.

Mr Gallagher QC said Curran had committed no further offences in over 20 years since his first arrest by police and had received treatment in England for his addiction to alcohol.

“He no longer drinks alcohol,’’ he added.

The defence QC said it would be the fifth time that Curran would be sentenced for crimes of a similar nature relating to the same incident at the cottage.

The court heard that Curran was first sentenced in 1995 to seven years in custody. In 2005, he received an 18-month sentence suspended for three years.

The following year, the priest was handed down a 14-month sentence and in 2012 received a four-year sentence which was later reduced to three years by the Court of Appeal.

Earlier in yesterday’s proceedings, Curran’s defence team had failed in an effort to have the case against him thrown out.

Mr Gallagher QC had asked the court to stay the proceedings against Curran saying: “He does not remember this complainant. He is not saying that the allegation is not true, it is simply that he can’t recall.”

Judge Grant ordered that Curran re-sign the sex offenders’ register before leaving the courthouse on continuing bail.

The judge also instructed the prosecution to review Curran’s Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) to see if it needed to be amended in the light of his guilty pleas.

Curran is expected to be sentenced later this month.

November 2014

Convicted paedophile priest Daniel Curran in court on fresh child abuse charges

One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious clerical sex offenders has been charged with child abuse for a fifth time.

Fr Daniel Curran (64) has already been jailed for abusing more than a dozen boys over a 17-year period.

At Downpatrick Magistrates Court yesterday Curran, of Bryansford Avenue, Newcastle, was charged with four further sex offences committed against a child in the 1990s.

He is accused of gross indecency and indecent assault.

Curran allegedly abused the child sometime between August 8, 1990 and August 7, 1995.

At a preliminary enquiry yesterday District Judge Eamon King ruled there was a case to answer.

When asked if he wanted to respond to the charges, Curran said: “Not at this time.” He was released yesterday by the court on his own bail of £500 to appear before Downpatrick Crown Court next month.

Curran has served three prison sentences in relation to the abuse of at least 13 young boys.

During one prison term he was attacked by another inmate.

His most recent prison sentence was imposed in February 2012, when he was jailed for three years for sexually abusing two boys at his family holiday home near Tyrella, Co Down, between 1989 and 1994.

At that time he had been serving as a priest in west Belfast and would take the boys away for weekends, having gained the trust of their parents.

Upon his imprisonment, the Bishop of Down and Connor Noel Treanor apologised over Curran’s offending, which spanned almost two decades.

“The entire Catholic community suffers whenever trust is betrayed in this manner by any person ministering in her name.

“I would reiterate the diocese’s unequivocal apologies to all those who have suffered abuse by clergy and religious orders and give the reassurance that the safeguarding of children and young people is paramount,” he said.

January 2013

Ex-priest’s sex abuse sentence reduced

Paedophile former priest, Daniel Curran, has had his sentence for abusing young boys reduced by the Court of Appeal.

Curran pleaded guilty to five charges of indecently assaulting two boys between 1989 and 1994 and was jailed for four years last February.

He ranks as one of Northern Ireland’s most notorious clerical paedophiles with a catalogue of abuse that includes attacks on 13 boys over a 17 year period.

The pattern in which he abused those children was always the same. Curran was a Priest at St Paul’s in West Belfast in the late 80s. He built a friendship with the parents of altar boys and then took them to his isolated cottage near Tyrella Beach in County Down where he plied them with alcohol and sexually abused them.

curr

The sentence he is serving currently is his third custodial sentence. He was first jailed for seven years in 1995 for abusing nine boys; the youngest was only eight years old.

He appealed his sentence last June and appeared via video link as the Lord Chief Justice delivered his judgement on Friday.

“By way of mitigation it was accepted that the appellant’s plea was volunteered at the first available and reasonable opportunity,” he said.

When arrested in 2011, Curran told detectives he had been a former alcoholic and at that time in his life, had been totally out of control.

The Court of Appeal was told Curran had given up alcohol and that there had been no concern about his behaviour towards children since his release from prison in 1998.

The Lord Chief Justice said, “It appears on each occasion the appellant has entered pleas of guilty at a stage which has prevented any concern that victims would have to give evidence and each judge has considered it appropriate to allow him full credit for those pleas.

“We have also dealt with the issue of remorse.”

Concluding, he said he considered that the sentences imposed were “manifestly excessive”. As a result Curran’s current jail term was reduced from four years to three years.

Feb 2012

Daniel Curran victim’s life of nightmares

A victim of paedophile priest Daniel Curran has said he has had nightmares about him since his childhood abuse.

On Wednesday, Curran was sentenced to four years in prison for indecently assaulting two young boys.

It is the fourth time he has been sentenced for sex offences against boys.

One of the victims in the latest case – who did not want to be identified – told the BBC of the impact of the abuse.

“It’s been very traumatic, because you would spend your life in doubt, you would spend your life in fear, you spend your whole life questioning yourself, doubting your ability, you feel dirty.

“I’ve had nightmares most of my life about this man,” he said.

The man said he was abused by the priest at his family’s cottage near Tyrella Beach in County Down.

“What he would usually do is go round during the day time and speak to parents and inform them that he was going to take the altar boys overnight down to his cottage,” he said.

“He would randomly select a few altar boys and take them down overnight.

“This paedophile built a trusting relationship with my grandparents.

“This was his work that he was systematically carrying out to infiltrate the trust of my family in order to gain access to me.”

The abuse went on for four to five years, between 1989 and 1994.

The man told the BBC that coming forward in those days was difficult.

“Back then, being a Catholic and having a strong religious background you would never be able to go and tell anyone because you knew that it was wrong,” he said.

“You knew back then that no-one would have trusted you, no-one would have believed you that this was going on. You didn’t know any different, you thought it was only you.”

He said as as he got older he realised there were other people coming forward to “bring their predators to justice”.

“I was in doubt about how I was going to be able to bring my predator to justice and from speaking to people and getting information I was able to go and speak to the local authorities and to lodge a complaint,” he said.

“I would actively like to encourage other victims of clerical abuse or any form of abuse to come forward.”

He said Wednesday’s sentence had come as a relief.

“I feel that the truth has eventually come out,” he said

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