Court reduces sex abuse priest's sentence to 18 months

By John Maddock
Irish Independent
October 13, 1998

A former director of vocations for the Holy Ghost Fathers who sexually abused two young boys had a seven-and-a-half years jail sentence reduced to 18 months by the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday.

The court decided that the balance of the sentence would be suspended on condition that Father Gus Griffin went to Melifont Abbey and observed conditions imposed by the abbot.

Fr Griffin (77), who had edited RTE's Outlook programme, was sentenced by the Dublin Circuit Court in July last year.

He pleaded guilty to four sample charges relating to offences from 1976 to 1983.

One of the victims was abused by Fr Griffin in the order's headquarters at Kimmage Manor, Dublin, after the boy expressed an interest in joining the order.

The Circuit Court imposed a four-year sentence on a charge of indecently assaulting a then 10-year-old victim in 1976; four years for indecently assaulting a teenage boy in 1981 and one year for committing an act of gross indecency with the youth in 1982. The judge imposed a seven-and-a-half year term for buggery on the same victim in 1983.

All the sentences run concurrently.

Mr Justice Hugh O'Flaherty, in the Court of Criminal Appeal yesterday, said it had been urged by Michael McMahon SC, for Fr Griffin, that the seven-and-a-half years sentence amounted to a life sentence. There was no doubt the offences were very serious and had very serious consequences for the victims.

Mr Justice O'Flaherty said that nothing emerging from the court should be taken as minimising the desperate distress this had caused to so many people. Sentencing was not an exact science; each case had to be taken on its own merits.






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