'Singing' priest who raped boy with a crucifix jailed

CourtsBy Sunday World
Tony Walsh
Tony Walsh

Former “singing” priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for seven and half years for raping a boy three times, once with a crucifix.

Anthony Walsh (62) committed the offence at a time when the maximum penalty for this offence, then legally termed indecent assault, was two years.

But today Judge Elma Sheahan used her discretion to impose consecutive sentences.

The Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment 1990 increased the maximum penalty for sexually assaulting a child under 17 to 14 years.

He forced the child to have sex twice, once in the parochial house in his parish and on another occasion in a tunnel under the Phoenix Park. He also used a crucifix to rape the boy.

Walsh told the jury during the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last month that he never knew the boy and said he never assaulted him.

Walsh, formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin had pleaded not guilty to five counts of indecently assaulting the boy on dates between January 1980 and December 1982. The boy was aged between 10 and 13 years old at the time of the abuse.

Following a three day trial the jury of two women and ten men returned verdicts of guilty on all counts after approximately one hour of deliberations.

Garda Tara Corrigan told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, at a sentence hearing earlier this month, that Walsh has 17 previous convictions, from 1995 to 2015, for indecently assaulting young boys and two girls.

Walsh fought two trials and pleaded guilty to the other offences. He is currently serving a sentence and is not due for release until 2021.

Judge Sheahan had adjourned the case having heard evidence. She said today that the rape charges were the most grave and warranted the maximum penalty of two years.

She imposed a further 15 months on the two remaining indecent assault charges and ordered that all of the sentences should run consecutively.

Judge Sheahan said she would reduce the total sentence of eight and half years by one year having taken into account the totality of the prison sentence served and to be served by Walsh.

She backdated the sentence to Walsh's conviction last month meaning he is now due for release in June 2023.

The judge said Walsh's abuse of the victim had long lasting consequences for the man in his childhood and into his adolescence and adulthood which had “plagued his life to date”.

She said the accused had violated his position of trust in a grievous way and it was difficult to find any mitigating factors considering that he ran “a full and complete defence of denial”

“There is no indication that he accepts the jury's verdict and he has shown no expression of remorse,” Judge Sheahan said.

By Sonya McLean