Daily Mail [London, United Kingdom]
March 17, 2021
Australian Associated Press
- Former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing schoolboy pleads innocence
- Neville Joseph Creen denies indecently abusing teenager in Mount Isa in 1970s
- The former priest told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’
A former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a schoolboy at a remote parish almost 50 years ago told police the teenager had the ‘wrong bloke’, a court has heard.
Neville Joseph Creen, 80, denies indecently abusing the teenager in Mount Isa, northwest Queensland, where he served as a priest in the 1970s.
Asked about the allegations in 2018, Creen told officers he had ‘never, ever touched the boy’, calling it a ‘gross injustice’ that he had been accused.
‘This is repulsive,’ Creen told detectives in the interview played to the Brisbane District Court on Thursday.
‘I think he’s got the wrong bloke.
‘It could be (the victim was referring to someone else) … Whether it was a Christian brother or one of the other priests or what, but it’s definitely not me.’
The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had just lost his father in a mining accident when he first met Father Creen, crown prosecutor Katrina Overell has told a Brisbane court.
The alleged victim says he remembers Creen being at his home when he first learned his father would never be coming home.
Creen allegedly put an arm around the teenager’s shoulders before promising to see him when he started high school, according to the alleged victim.
The alleged victim remembers Creen seeking him out in the schoolyard on his first day, reminding him they had met before.
‘He asked (the victim) to accompany him to the chapel, and they sat on chairs in his office,’ Ms Overell said.
The priest put his left arm around the teen’s shoulders, asked him how he was coping and told him he knew many children had lost their fathers in the mines, the alleged victim told court.
After that day, the alleged victim says Creen allegedly asked several times for the boy to be sent to his office under the guise of preparing the chapel for Easter and Christmas services.
They would go to the priest’s office, where he allegedly rubbed the teen’s thigh and groin on different occasions, the alleged victim told court.
After more than 40 years since the alleged incidents, the alleged victim complained to police in 2016.
Creen pleaded not guilty to four charges of indecent and sexual abuse at the start of the two-day trial, but one count was discontinued by the prosecution on Thursday.
There were significant inconsistencies in the accounts provided by the alleged victim and someone seemed to be giving him information to strengthen his case, defence barrister Debra Wardle told the court in closing.
She also said his accounts were not plausible, asking why the boy didn’t ‘just call out’ or walk out the office where he alleged the incidents occurred.
‘If this had been happening to you, Your Honour, you’d try and get yourself out,’ Ms Wardle added.
‘The instinct to protect yourself, you’d at least give it a shot.’
She said the man also had a civil case against Creen which was a ‘powerful motivator’.
But Ms Overell said the man is credible and ‘doing his best to tell the truth’.
‘Any inconsistencies are attributable to the passage of time and also the number of incidents he was attempting to recall,’ she added.
Judge Ian Dearden will hand down the verdict in the judge-only trial on Friday.