Paedo priest who abused vulnerable boys for 20 years avoids jail after breaching court order

Sunday World [Dublin, Ireland]

December 29, 2022

By Paul Higgins

A paedophile priest who abused young vulnerable boys for almost 20 years was handed a suspended sentence on Thursday after he breached a court order.

Imposing a three month jail sentence on disgraced priest Daniel Gerard Curran but suspending it for three years, District Judge Steven Keown said the pre-sentence probation report illustrated a “depressing lack of insight and minimisation of his behaviour.”

He warned the 72-year-old if he breached his Sexual Offences Prevention Order again in that time “you will be facing custody.”

Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, had earlier entered a guilty plea to breaching his lifelong SOPO on 12 August this year in that without reasonable excuse or permission from his designated risk manager, he “remained or loitered at Tullymore National Activity Centre which by its nature is likely to attract or be frequented by children.”

A prosecuting lawyer told Downpatrick Magistrates Court how Curran had walked into the activity centre “with a box of books for dissemination” but staff who recognised him as the notorious child abuser he is, leafed through the books and realised they were “filled with sex references” and reported the matter to the police.

The books had been written by a Nicholas Russell which is the pseudonym Curran has used before to write a number of books centred in the Newcastle area.

Arrested and interviewed, Curran admitted being at the centre and leaving the box of his books there.

Defence counsel Noel Dillon revealed that Curran had left books there before “five or six years ago” without complaint so was simply doing that again.

“There is no claim that he was in direct proximity to any children,” said the barrister, adding that Curran “had it in his mind the centre was more adult orientated.”

“It’s been pointed out to him that children do attend there and he has resolved never to drop books there again,” said Mr Dillon.

Submitting that Curran is entitled to credit for his early guilty plea, the lawyer said there was only one previous SOPO breach even though the pervert pensioner has been under supervision since 2009.

Sentencing the predatory pervert who sat at the back of the court dressed in a blue anorak, DJ Keown said he was satisfied the breach “crossed the custody threshold” but given the plea, he would suspend the jail sentence.

The last time Curran was at court four years ago he smiled as he walked free after he was handed a 200 hour community service order for sexually abusing a boy more than 20 years ago.

Sentencing Curran in September 2018, Judge Piers Grant warned the sexual predator however that if any further offences came to light, the CSO was no indication “that you will not receive a custodial sentence” for them.

Judge Grant told the disgraced former priest who was then facing sex abuse charges for the sixth time, his offending was a “gross breach of position and trust on your part.”

He said it was well recognised in both north and south that priests and other clergy were held in a “high degree of reverence, respect and in many cases, fear,” so as a group they “enjoyed considerable power and influence.”

But the judge continued however that “you and others wickedly, sinfully and by your professed moral standards, dishonestly took advantage” of that trust, respect and power.

“Regrettably the very considerable amount of sexual abuse, cruelty and dishonesty perpetrated by priests and other clergy that has come to light in recent years has demonstrated the extent to which that belief was wrong and such trust misplaced,“ declared the judge.

At an earlier hearing Curran pleaded guilty to a single of indecently assaulting a male child on a date unknown between 2-6 January 1991.

Opening the Crown case, prosecuting lawyer James Johnston told the court that following a similar pattern to his previous offences, Curran had taken his victim, who was then just 12-years-old, and two other boys to his family cottage near Tyrella in Co. Down.

At the time Curran was the parish priest for St. Paul’s in West Belfast and although that was not the victim’s parish, Mr Johnston said the family “recognised” Curran.

He told the boy’s parents that one of the other boys was refusing to go along unless their son went too and the court heard that “against his father’s wishes, the victims mother gave her consent” for the boy to go along.

The lawyer described that at the cottage, the victim was given a “glass of whiskey” by Curran and that all three, along with the defendant, slept in one double bed “with their clothes on.”

The victim got up to go to the toilet in the middle of the night and when he came back inside, Curran was waiting for him “naked from the waist down,” save for socks.

The priest took the boy’s hand and put it on his private parts said Mr Johnston, adding that according to the victim it felt “slimy” and that the incident “seemed to go on for ages as I froze.”

Having pulled away, the victim and one of the other boys left the cottage and were “wandering country roads for some time” until they went back at around 6am.

It was then that the victim uncovered a “snuff box which was filled with Vaseline.”

The court heard the victim did not make any complaint to the police until 2015 and that when he was questioned about the allegations, Curran told cops he was a “hopeless alcoholic” at the time and couldn’t specifically remember the victim being at the cottage.

The pervert did however admit that he had “deepest regrets” for the numerous bouts of sexual activity that he “indulged in at that time but that he had not had a drink since July 1994.

Mr Johnston said it was the prosecution submission that Curran’s criminal record was an aggravating factor, as was the breach of trust which had been placed in him as a priest, the age of the victim at the time and the damage the incident caused him.

Revealing that Curran has been a registered sex offender since 1994, the lawyer said there had been convictions for offences committed in 77, 82, 86, 88, 90 and 91.