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priest's return Victim of clerical abuse tells court she fears sex abuse priest Fr John Murray will strike again

The priest was found guilty at a 'Trial of the Facts' as he was not fit to stand trial due to Alzheimer's

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Fr John Joseph Murray was found guilty of historical sex offences dating back more than 40 years

Fr John Joseph Murray was found guilty of historical sex offences dating back more than 40 years

Fr John Joseph Murray was found guilty of historical sex offences dating back more than 40 years

A victim of clerical sex abuse told a court this week she still had major concerns over the future behaviour of the priest who attacked her when she was a child.

Sinead Gorman was speaking at a hearing in Dungannon Crown Court to decide the fate of Fr John Murray.

The 80-year-old veteran priest had previously served as curate in St Matthew's Parish in the Short Strand area of Belfast, where Sinead Gorman lived with her family.

Murray - who had gone to live in the Canary Islands - returned to Belfast after the PSNI threatened to introduce extradition proceeding against him.

A previous court in Belfast ruled that as Murray suffered from Alzheimer's, he was incapable of mounting a reasonable defence.

But at a recent 'Trial of the Facts' in Dungannon Crown Court, a jury concluded Murray was guilty of two separate counts of indecent assault on two female children.

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Sinead Gorman was one of the women who took a case against Murray for  indecent assault  on dates between December 31, 1976 and January 1, 1983.  Sinead, holds a picture of her mother who sadly passed away before seeing her daughter receive justice

Sinead Gorman was one of the women who took a case against Murray for indecent assault on dates between December 31, 1976 and January 1, 1983. Sinead, holds a picture of her mother who sadly passed away before seeing her daughter receive justice

Sinead Gorman was one of the women who took a case against Murray for indecent assault on dates between December 31, 1976 and January 1, 1983. Sinead, holds a picture of her mother who sadly passed away before seeing her daughter receive justice

After hearing evidence, the jury returned a verdict that, 'Having been found unfit to be tried, found that he did the act, indecent assault of a female, Section 52 of the Offences Against the Persons' Act 1861.'

The victims - who are now both in the 50s - were around 10 years of age when the offences took place.

But on Monday one of them, Sinead Gorman, told Judge Sherrard that in the event of a non-custodial sentence being passed, she had still major reservations over Murray's future access to children.

Ms Gorman spoke out after the judge invited comments from the victims in the case.

She thanked the judge for setting out the terms of the case in plain terms, but added: "I have concerns over access to children - if there are nieces and nephews etc coming in and out of the place."

Earlier the court heard evidence from Murray's brother Gerry, who said his brother now required the services of a full-time carer. But said relatives lived only a matter of minutes away and were on hand to assist if necessary.

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Mr Murray confirmed his brother had Alzheimer's and revealed he was incapable of looking after himself.

He said the priest - who now uses a wheelchair - seldom wants to leave his home.

And he recalled difficulties experienced when he recently accompanied his brother to sign the Sex Offenders Register in Downpatrick.

"It was an ordeal to get him into the police station. He fell asleep and was actually incapable of signing it, but the police officer accepted this," said Mr Murray.

He also said Murray was unable to walk more than 50 yards unaided. He added that the former priest is permanently in a confused state and he is easily unsettled.

Judge Sherrard told the court that although the hearing was listed for sentence and the previous hearing had been listed as a trial and had much of the appearance of a trial, this was not in fact the case.

"It was not a trial and there will be no sentence," he said.

The proceedings came before the court under the Mental Health Act, he said.

But he said he was mindful that there may be an element of disappointment for victims as a result. He said that if it had been a normal criminal trial, then there was little doubt Murray would have been heading to jail.

The judge said while he wasn't suggesting any probation, he would welcome the input of the Probation Service to revue Murray's supervision and guardianship.

The case will call again in Dungannon on October 22, when it is expected to be concluded.

hjordan.media@btinternet.com

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