Ex-priest on sex abuse charges

Ex-priest on sex abuse charges

13 March 2019

A RETIRED who priest allegedly committed indecent assaults against two females in Belfast up to 40 years ago has appeared in court.

Fr John Murray faces charges as part of a police investigation into claims of historical clerical sexual abuse in the city.

The 77 year-old, with an address at Marguerite Avenue in Newcastle, was arrested on Saturday — just days after travelling back from Spain.

A carer guided him into Belfast Magistrates’ Court in a wheelchair for his first appearance on Monday.

Two charges of indecent assault were put to him as he listened through a hearing aid.

The offences are alleged to have been committed on dates unknown between 1976 and 1982.

A detective said she could connect Fr Murray to the charges.

The retired cleric, who had served at St Matthew’s in east Belfast, entered no plea during the brief hearing.

But his solicitor, Mr Denis Moloney, hit out at how police handled the case.

He told the court it had been “draconian” to have Fr Murray brought in and arrested at the weekend.

Acknowledging the sensitivities involved, Mr Moloney added: “The defendant is here and ready to be interviewed by the authorities when they see fit.”

The case was adjourned for four weeks. Fr Murray was released on continuing bail, with conditions that he must remain in the jurisdiction, surrender his passport and stay at an address known to police.