Ex-Priest's Release Sparks Outburst

By Tony Keim and Amanda Watt
The Courier-Mail [Australia]
November 4, 2004

A FORMER Catholic priest who molested 18 girls, including the flower girl at a wedding and others to whom he gave confessional absolution, will walk free from jail within days despite yesterday being convicted of molesting another two girls.

The Brisbane District Court decision not to impose an additional term of actual custody upon Neville Joseph Creen so incensed one of his victims she yelled abuse at him as he was led to the court cells.

The victim, aged in her late 30s and who cannot be identified, whispered words of exasperation as it became clear the Crown was asking Creen be given a wholly suspended two-year prison term.

"Not even one day extra (in prison) Mr Creen. I hope you're happy," the incensed woman said to him.

Judge Brian Boulton was told Creen was jailed for 3 1/2 years in September last year, but the term was ordered to be suspended after he had spent 14 months in custody.

Prosecutor Carl Heaton said yesterday that suspension would come into effect within days and Creen would be freed.

Creen, 64, formerly of Sydney, pleaded guilty last year and was convicted on 34 counts of indecent dealings with 18 girls when he was a parish priest in Mount Isa between 1973 and 1981.

The court was told Creen molested the girls, aged between six and 12, in a variety of locations including their homes during visits, on church youth camps, during confession and on one occasion at a wedding.

The child he molested at the wedding was in the bridal party as a flower girl, the court was told.

The victims were generally the children of parishioners or associated with a primary school in the region. Several of the girls were molested more than once, and one victim four years after the first time Creen indecently dealt with her.

The court was told Creen retired as a priest in 1994 and had since been successful in business.

Creen yesterday pleaded guilty to an additional six counts of indecently dealing with girls under 16 while a priest in Mount Isa between 1972 and 1974.

Mr Heaton said one of the girls had approached police about Creen's sexual assaults before last year's sentencing hearing. However he said the second victim came forward after media reports of his court appearance.

The Crown submitted Creen received a wholly suspended two-year prison term.

Barrister Michael Byrne, QC, for Creen, said his client had been a model prisoner and that he agreed with the sentence requested by the Crown.

Judge Boulton said it was clear from impact statements written by both victims that Creen's attacks were responsible for ruining their lives.

"I have read the victim impact statements of the two complainants and the effects on them have been quite disastrous and ruined their lives," Judge Boulton said.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.