Ex-priest John Farrell is named in court on 26 charges regarding five children in northern New South Wales

Broken Rites
July 01, 2015

Former Catholic priest John Joseph Farrell appeared in Sydney's Central Local Court on 30 June 2015, charged with 26 sexual offences which were allegedly committed against five boys between 1981 and 1984 in northern New South Wales. According to court documents, some of these 26 offences allegedly occurred while Father Farrell was based at the Moree parish (within the Armidale Catholic diocese); and some allegedly occurred when Father Farrell visited a parish at Tweed Heads (in the Lismore diocese) on the NSW north coast. This court case is confined to these five children (and these 26 charges) and it does not include any charges which Farrell might face regarding any other children.

Father John Joseph Farrell worked as a Catholic priest in the 1980s and the early 1990s. He later lived at a private address in the town of Armidale until late 2012. More recently, he has been living in the Harden area (between Young and Yass) in southern NSW.

In late June 2015 John Joseph Farrell was arrested at Harden by a Sydney-based specialist team of detectives from the Sex Crime Squad of the NSW Police. Police charged him with the 26 alleged offences, with no police bail. On June 25, he was taken in custody to a local court (at Wagga in southern NSW) to enable these 26 charges to be officially filed. Farrell entered the courtroom with two Corrective Services officers. Two specialist detectives were present in court.

In the June 25 hearing, Farrell's lawyer applied for a media-suppression order which would prevent Farrell's name from being published.  He said that Farrell could be placed in danger if his identity were made public. He said the type of charges laid against Farrell generated vilification and outrage in the community.

The name-suppression application was opposed by the prosecutor, quoting legislation and a precedent in relation to justice being open to the public.

Magistrate Erin Kennedy refused the name-suppression request. She said there was strong public interest in open justice.

Magistrate Erin Kennedy adjourned the case for further proceedings in Sydney, to be held a few days later, and in the meantime she remanded Farrell in custody.

[The June 26 court hearing was reported, with Farrell's name, in newspapers in northern New South Wales including theArmidale Express, the Tamworth Northern Daily Leader and the Moree  Champion. Tamworth is the largest town in the Armidale Catholic diocese and Armidale is the town where the bishop is based. The Armidale diocese is a vast one, extending northwards to the Queensland border and westwards to towns such as Moree.]

On June 30,  the case came up in Sydney's Central Local Court (with Magistrate Les Mabbutt), for a brief procedure in which Farrell again applied for bail. Magistrate Mabbutt proposed to grant bail, with strict conditions (one of which was that Farrell must report to Harden police station every day). However, prosecutors indicated that they would challenge any granting of bail. Therefore, for legal reasons, Farrell's bail was stayed for the time being. The bail proposal is being referred to the NSW Supreme Court, where a judge is expected to make a final decision soon. The Supreme Court's ruling will determine whether Farrell can be released from custody while he awaits his next court appearance later in 2015 on the 26 charges.

Investigation continues

A special team of detectives (named Strike Force Glenroe) was established in July 2012 to investigate allegations concerning John Joseph Farrell. Anybody with relevant information can contact Task Force Glenroe through the Sex Crime Squad at the NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney. The strike force will continue its investigations into John Joseph Farrell.


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