YESTERDAY at Downpatrick Crown Court paedophile priest Daniel John Curran was convicted for the fourth time in relation to indecently assaulting boys in his care while he was a priest at the Falls Road parish of St Paul’s. Curran, who up until he was jailed yesterday had been living at an address at Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexually abusing two boys in his care while they stayed at a cottage in Tyrella, County Down in the late-80s and early-90s. Both victims had been altar boys at St Paul’s during the time of the abuse.
During a pre-sentence hearing last week, a prosecuting barrister told the court that one of victims had been abused on at least 10 occasions by Curran between 1989 and 1992.
The abuse took place when the victim and a number of other altar boys were invited by Curran to the Co Down cottage near Tyrella beach after the priest cynically won the trust of their parents.
The court heard that the cottage was a “spartan affair” with no electricity, running water and just two rooms and a loft. Curran drank heavily during these trips and offered his alcohol to his young house guests, describing it as “the Blood of Christ”.
The court heard that the victim felt he could not tell his parents about the abuse as he felt he was in the wrong.
“He did not want to tell the other boys on the trip because of the danger that they might tell his mother,” the court heard. When the abuse continued the victim took steps to protect himself from Curran while staying at the cottage, including moving his position in the bed. Despite this, Curran “still got in beside him and abused him”.
Curran’s other victim had been targeted by the paedophile between 1986 and 1988.
Like the previous victim, he too had been invited to Curran’s family cottage with the permission of his parents.
The victim we spoke to slept in the loft of the cottage, an area reached by climbing a retractable ladder, with other boys. When the victim was abused at least one other boy was in the same bed at the time. The court heard that the victim returned to the cottage again but that the boys “pulled up the ladder to the loft”.
“Nothing happened that night,” the court heard.
During last week’s pre-sentence hearing, the court heard details of Curran’s previous three convictions for indecent assault, which involved 10 boys over a 17-year period from 1977 to 1994.
The first conviction was in 1995 when Curran was found guilty of 12 counts of sexual assault against eight boys at the cottage and sentenced to seven years in prison. He was also found guilty of actual bodily harm after assaulting a child who tried to fight him off.
In 2005 he was in court again on two further counts of indecent assault that took place in the 1980s. The victim was aged between 11 and 13 and targeted again while staying at Curran’s cottage. The court heard that the victim had been given so much alcohol by Curran at the cottage that “he was so drunk he could not remember going to bed”.
Curran was given two suspended sentences for two counts of indecent assault.
Curran was back in court in 2006 on charges of indecent assault committed on a boy between 1977 and 1982. He was sentenced to 14 months in prison. In this case the court heard that Curran accessed the victim by befriending his mother and drinking with her on occasions.
The abuse took place not only in Curran’s Co Down cottage but also at the boy’s home as “Curran was such a frequent visitor he had been trusted to sleep overnight in the house in the boy’s double bed”. A defence barrister for Curran told the court that Curran was “an alcoholic and admitted these offences took place when he was drinking”.
After the incidents of abuse first came to light in 1994, Curran was sent to England by the Catholic church on an intensive counselling course for his sexual conduct and alcoholism.
He was told while on the course not to mention the names of any other of his victims “on the basis of privacy”.
Curran has been targeted repeatedly in prison and could well face more attacks from fellow prisoners now that he’s back behind bars yet again for offences against young boys.
His defence barrister told the court that when Curran was in prison for his 1995 convictions he had been assaulted by other prisoners on at least four occasions, including being attacked with pool cues and having ground glass put in his food by inmates. He also required hospital treatment after some of the attacks.
“He lost two and a half stone in a matter of months from the date of admission,” the court heard.