‘Singing priest’ jailed for his sex assaults on boy 45 years ago
18 hrs ag
Former ‘singing priest’ Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child 45 years ago.© Provided by Extra.ie
Walsh, 67, was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for offences of indecent assault.© Provided by Extra.ie Former ‘singing priest’ Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child 45 years ago. Pic: Collins Courts
Walsh became known as the ‘singing priest’ after joining Father Michael Cleary’s All Priests Show in the 1970s as an Elvis Presley impersonator.
He was dropped from the show in the 1980s following rumours of child abuse, which were not reported to the Gardaí.
Tuesday’s hearing was told that he was most recently sentenced for indecent assault in 2018, receiving a term of five years with the final 18 months suspended. Prior to sentencing on Tuesday, Walsh was due for release on Friday.© Provided by Extra.ie Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for offences of indecent assault. Pic: Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Walsh was convicted by a jury following a trial in May of this year of six counts of indecent assault at a church in Dublin on unknown dates between September 1, 1973, and July 1, 1977. He had pleaded not guilty to all of the offences.
A Garda sergeant told Philipp Rahn BL, prosecuting, that the victim was aged between nine and 13 at the time of the abuse, while Walsh was in his early 20s.
The sergeant said the first instance of abuse occurred when the victim went for a walk near a nearby girls’ school and saw there was an egg carton inside a window. He tried to knock the egg carton over by knocking against the window, but accidentally broke the glass and cut his finger.© Provided by Extra.ie Walsh, 67, was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s. Pic: Collins Courts
He walked away from the school, but was then stopped by Walsh and told to follow him.
He was led into a room in a nearby church where Walsh cleaned the cut on his finger and put a plaster on it.
Walsh then proceeded to molest the boy, forcing him to perform a sex act on him. He then told the victim to return to the church the next day.
Similar instances of abuse occurred on five further occasions over the next weeks, after which Walsh would tell the boy to return to the church again either the following day or week. The abuse came to an end after the boy returned to the church one day and Walsh was not there.© Provided by Extra.ie Tuesday’s hearing was told that he was most recently sentenced for indecent assault in 2018, receiving a term of five years with the final 18 months suspended. Pic: Shutterstock
Mr Rahn told the court that during the trial, the victim was cross-examined on the basis that the defence were not disputing that he had been abused, but that he had misidentified Walsh as the abuser.
In his victim-impact statement, portions of which were read out before the court by the sergeant, the victim said he never settled in secondary school after the abuse occurred, being expelled from the school after he began misbehaving.
The victim said the abuse led to intimacy issues and that he was only able to be intimate with his wife when intoxicated, which led to their separation. He said he has felt shame as a result of the abuse which has affected all aspects of his life.
He said he felt ‘sickened’ having to be in the same room as his abuser during the trial. He said he will never forgive Walsh for having to give details of the abuse in court and that the accused could have pleaded guilty.© Provided by Extra.ie Walsh became known as the ‘singing priest’ after joining Father Michael Cleary’s All Priests Show in the 1970s as an Elvis Presley impersonator. Pic: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie
The sergeant agreed with Simon Matthews BL, defending, that there has been ‘a considerable delay’ in the case coming before the court and that the offences date back over 45 years.
Mr Matthews asked the court to take into account that his client has spent 15 years in custody.
He also asked the court to take into account the totality of the case and said it might have been dealt with at the same time as other offences.
Counsel submitted that his client has helped fellow prisoners learn how to read and write while in custody.
Judge Melanie Greally set a headline sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment for each count, taking into account that the maximum sentence for the offence was two years.
The judge said the only mitigating factor in the case was the accused man’s good conduct after going into custody.
Judge Greally sentenced Walsh to 12 months’ imprisonment on each count.
The judge ordered that the first five sentences run concurrent to each other and the final sentence run consecutive to the rest for an effective operative sentence of two years’ imprisonment.
After passing sentence, Judge Greally thanked the victim for the manner in which he gave evidence. She said she hopes this will bring him some relief and that his recovery will continue on in the vein it has.