November 2017

Ex-priest jailed for child sexual abuse images offences

A former senior Catholic priest previously jailed for child sexual abuse images offences has been put behind bars again for a similar offence

Michael Patrick O’Kelly, 62, was previously a senior priest until he was convicted of possession of 18,000 indecent photographs of children in March 2002, which led to him being suspended from church duties and jailed for nine months.

He was also put on the sex offenders register when he was sentenced in 2002 which meant police carried out a random spot search on O’Kelly, who now lives on Gainsborough Road, Basingstoke, on December 1, 2016, during where he surrendered a mobile phone.

The court heard that the phone contained 62 category A images – the worst classification – 70 category B and 209 category C images of children, with those in the category A photographs being “particularly young”.

Defending, Adrienne Knight said: “This is the second time this has happened, however since Mr O’Kelly’s previous conviction he has tried to change.

“He had done things on his computer to try and stop himself from looking at this type of material, but he lost control.

“He understands this is a problem and has tried to get help from counsellors, he knows he has an addictive personality and really wants to change.”

Miss Knight also told Winchester Crown Court about how O’Kelly has been visiting church and has not hidden his problems from anyone including his employer.

Sentencing O’Kelly to 15 months in prison, Judge Keith Cutler said: “He is a man of high intelligence and he should know this is a crime and people suffer as a result.

“This type of material would not exist if people like you didn’t want to view it, it’s easy for you to say you are just one of many but it exploits children and subjects them to psychological issues.”

O’Kelly, who pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children, was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years and made to pay an £85 victim surcharge.

Judge Cutler added: “Spend your time in thought and prayer, please ensure you do behave when you get released.”

May 2002

Priest jailed on child abuse images charge

A senior Catholic priest who was caught with 18,000 indecent photographs and computer images of children has been jailed for nine months.

Father Michael O’Kelly, the former Dean of Reading, had pleaded guilty to a single charge of making indecent pseudo-photographs of a child between June 1997 and October 2000.

The court was told the images – found on videos, magazines and computer discs – were “disturbing, degrading and disgusting”.

The 47-year-old priest, who has been receiving treatment at Horton Hospital in Surrey, was also sentenced to a six year supervision order, placed on the sex offenders’ register and banned from working with children.

He appeared at Reading Crown Court for sentencing on Monday.

The priest – a former African missionary – said in police interviews that he ran up phone bills of up to £1,500 a month as he accessed the internet, downloading images and visiting chatrooms.

“What I was doing in private was destroying what I did in public – it was my guilty secret,” he said.

“I was afraid but I followed. I simply did not, or could not, control it.”

The priest was arrested following a raid at his home in Tilehurst near Reading by Thames Valley Police and Customs and Excise officers.

Prosecutor Neil Moore said at least 70% of the images contained children involved in sex acts.

He said there was no evidence O’Kelly had passed on the images or shared them with other people.

Defending, Jennifer Edwards said O’Kelly had been highly motivated to co-operate with police.

Judge Stanley Spence said that up until 1997 he had no doubt O’Kelly was a good priest.

“But what you have done assists to perpetrate the abuse of children, the mere fact that you have indulged in it perpetrates those who assist in this awful treatment of children,” he said.