Former priest Daniel Curran sentenced for child sex assault

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Daniel Curran Daniel Curran's offences were "a significant and grievous breach of trust", the judge said

A former Catholic priest has been given an 18-month suspended prison sentence for sexually assaulting a seven-year-old boy in his care.

Daniel Curran, 64, of Bryansford Avenue, Newcastle, pleaded guilty to gross indecency towards a child.

He also admitted a charge of indecent assault on the same victim.

The judge said Curran's offences were a "grievous breach of trust".

Downpatrick Crown Court heard that the offences had taken place between August 1990 and August 1993 when the victim was aged between seven and ten.

A prosecutor said the victim was a pupil of a primary school in Belfast when Curran visited it in his role as a priest.

Curran asked him if he wanted to serve as an altar boy at St Paul's Church in west Belfast.

The boy then started to go on trips with a number of other older boys, and Curran took them to a cottage in Tyrella, County Down.

"The victim describes that the house had one bedroom which had one massive bedroom and all the boys slept together in the bed with Fr Curran," the prosecutor said.

Now aged 31, the victim told police that Curran then indecently assaulted him.

"The complainant said he made an excuse that he needed the toilet, to which Fr Curran replied: 'You have been a good boy.'

"He then went outside to go to the toilet in the rain. He described being cold, wet and crying but had nowhere else to go."

The offences came to light in March 2014 when the victim told his wife about the abuse he suffered.

A defence barrister said Curran was remorseful for his conduct even though he could not recall the incident.

"He cannot remember because at that time he was an alcoholic and alcohol was a large factor in what happened," the defence barrister said.

"He can only imagine the awful damage he has done to this boy and offers his apology to this boy."

The judge said Curran had been "deliberately targeting groups of individuals" to ply them with alcohol so he could abuse them.

He added that Curran had received prison sentences totalling 13 years and 8 months for previous sexual assaults on children.

Curran is currently the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and is on the sex offenders' register for life.

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