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Historic abuse Ex 'singing priest' Tony Walsh jailed for two years for repeat indecent assault of boy

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.

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Tony Walsh.  Pic Collins Courts

Tony Walsh. Pic Collins Courts

Tony Walsh. Pic Collins Courts

Former “singing” priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child 45 years ago.

Walsh (67) was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970's.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.

The court heard he was most recently sentenced for indecent assault in 2018 to a term of imprisonment of five years with the final 18 months suspended. Prior to sentencing today, Walsh had a release date of July 9, 2021.

Walsh was convicted by a jury following a trial in May 2021 of six counts of indecent assault at a church in Dublin on unknown dates between September 1, 1973 and July 1, 1977. He had pleaded not guilty to all offences.

A garda sergeant told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, that the victim was aged between nine and 13 at the time of the abuse, while Walsh was a trainee priest in his early 20's.

The sergeant said the first instance of abuse occurred when the victim went for a walk near a nearby girls' school and saw there was an egg carton inside a window. He tried to knock the egg carton over by knocking against the window, but accidentally broke the glass and cut his finger.

He walked away from the school, but was then stopped by Walsh and told to follow him. He was led into a room in a nearby church where Walsh cleaned the cut on his finger and put a plaster on it.

Walsh then proceeded to molest the boy by first groping the child's genitals, then removing his own penis and forcing the boy to masturbate him until he ejaculated. He then told the victim to return to the church the next day.

Similar instances of abuse occurred on five further occasions over the next weeks, after which Walsh would tell the boy to return to the church again either the following day or week. The abuse came to an end after the boy returned to the church one day and Walsh was not there.

Mr Rahn told the court that during the trial, the victim was cross-examined on the basis that the defence were not disputing that he had been abused, but that he had misidentified Walsh as the abuser.

In his victim impact statement, portions of which were read out before the court by the sergeant, the victim said he never settled in secondary school after the abuse occurred, being expelled from the school after he began acting out.

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The victim said the abuse led to intimacy issues and that he was only able to be intimate with his wife when intoxicated, which led to their separation. He said he has felt shame as a result of the abuse which has affected all aspects of his life.

He said he felt “sickened” having to be in the same room as his abuser during the trial. He said he will never forgive Walsh for having to give details of the abuse in court and that the accused could have pleaded guilty.

Judge Melanie Greally set a headline sentence of 18 months imprisonment for each count, taking into account that the maximum sentence for the offence was two years.

The judge said the only mitigating factor in the case was the accused man's good conduct after going into custody.

Judge Greally sentenced Walsh to 12 months imprisonment on each count, ordering that the first five sentences run concurrent to each other and the final sentence run consecutive to the rest for an effective operative sentence of two years imprisonment.

After passing sentence, Judge Greally thanked the victim for the manner in which he gave evidence in the trial and conducted himself in court. She said she hopes this will bring him some relief and his recovery will continue on in the vain it has.

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