Victim pleased to see ex priest back in jail

Down Recorder
March 7, 2012

A man in his 30s has spoken of the abuse he suffered in Tyrella at the hands of a paedophile priest he viewed as a “vision of God.”

The man, who does not want to be identified, was in Downpatrick Crown Court on Wednesday to see his abuser, the former Fr Daniel Curran, jailed for four years for abusing him on at least 10 occasions in the late 1980s and the early 1990s and the abuse of another young boy during the same period.

Describing the prison sentence as “fantastic”, the man said he now felt a “huge weight had been lifted” from his shoulders.

He said it had taken him many years before he felt able to admit to police that he was yet another victim of 61 year-old Curran, who has already been sentenced to over nine years in prison for abusing eight other boys during weekend trips to the priest’s holiday cottage at Tyrella.

Although he was questioned by police when his name was raised during an initial enquiry in the abuse in the mid-1990s, the man said he did not at that time feel able to admit he too had suffered.

He recalled being excited when he was first invited to the Tyrella cottage by Curran, who was his local parish priest at that time, and said the country retreat was an exciting proposition to a young boy from Belfast which was in the midst of the Troubles.

“It was an isolated cottage. There was no electricity or running water, we used paraffin lamps and there was a big fire that you hung the kettle over, horses in the field. It was an adventure for boys from the city,” he said.

He said his grandparents attended mass daily and he was brought up to have great respect for the priest who was regarded as a “vision of God.”

“I would come home from school and my grandparents would have said Fr. Curran was here and he is coming back at six o’clock to take you down to the rural cottage,” he recalled.

But once they arrived at the cottage, the man, who was around nine when the abuse began, said they were quickly sent outside to play while Curran “cracked open” the wine.

When they were called back into the house, he said they were also told to drink the wine, which Curran told them was the “blood of Christ.”

It was while sharing a bed with Curran and up to five other boys that the abuse would happen, despite the young boy doing everything he could to avoid the priest’s advances.

He said he later tried to avoid the trips altogether by claiming he wanted to go to the youth club instead, but his parents, who were oblivious to what was happening, often told him he had to go.

“Back then, being a Catholic and having a strong religious background you would never be able to go and tell anyone because you knew that it was wrong,” he said.

“You knew back then that no-one would have trusted you, no-one would have believed you that this was going on. You didn’t know any different, you thought it was only you.”

He said he hoped the case would encourage other victims of abuse to come forward and said he felt that a weight had been lifted off his shoulders following the court case.

Sentencing Curran last week, Judge David Smyth said Curran had never shown remorse for his crimes.

“These were offences that were not isolated, they followed a pattern and extended over a lengthy period of years,” he said.

“This is a case where you systematically set out to abuse children in your care.

“You knew exactly what you were doing and you persuaded parents to leave their children in your care. This is an abuse of trust of great magnitude.”

Curran, who the court heard was assaulted by other prisoners four times during his previous spell of incarceration, will be due for release on licence in two years.























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