Glasgow priest convicted of sexually abusing four girls

BBC [London, England]

January 20, 2023

By BBC News

A Glasgow priest has been convicted of sexually abusing four girls.

Father Neil McGarrity, who has been added to the sex offenders register, targeted his victims at two churches as well as his parish home.

The 68-year-old was found guilty at Glasgow Sheriff Court of four sexual assaults and one charge of engaging in sexual activity.

The charges span from December 2017 to February 2020, with the girls aged between 10 and 16.

Sheriff Vincent Lunny said the priest carried out “touching of a sexual nature”.

He told the court: “I was impressed with the care the witnesses gave their evidence and were not exaggerating in any way

“I’m satisfied that the contact and inappropriate touching was the beginning of getting to something more serious.

“I’m satisfied this was a single course of conduct systematically pursued by you.”

The court heard from a girl who said she was repeatedly hugged by the priest when she was aged 10 or 11 at St Thomas’ Church in Riddrie.

The witness stated that McGarrity made her feel “uncomfortable”. The girl added that he stroked her arm and hugged her.

A second girl told the court that she phoned Childline about the priest not long after meeting him.

The girl said that on separate occasions he rubbed her waist, chest, arm and touched her leg.

A third girl told the court McGarrity put his arm around her at St Bernadette’s Church, in Carntyre, as well as St Thomas’.

A 25-year-old woman said she spotted the priest and her younger sister in a “prolonged embrace” at his parish home.

McGarrity told the court he was “stunned” to hear of the allegations.

Church apology

Sentencing was deferred, pending background reports, until March. McGarrity has been granted bail.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Glasgow said the convicted priest was suspended from public ministry.

“We sincerely apologise to the victims of Fr McGarrity and renew apologies previously made for the abuse suffered by anyone in the care of those ministering or working on behalf of the church,” the spokesman said.

“The archdiocese will, in due course, continue its own canonical process, which was put on hold until completion of the criminal case and sentencing.”