A Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing two young boys has had his appeal thrown out despite arguing he didn’t receive a fair trial. A former Catholic priest and police chaplain’s appeal against his convictions of sexually abusing young boys in northern NSW has been denied despite arguing the Crown’s “sanitised version” of events deprived him of a fair trial.
Finally sense from the court of appeals, it is rare that we at FACAA hear of appeals against convictions for child abusers being thrown out, all too often they are granted and a re-trial is triggered but not this time thankfully.
John Patrick Casey was in charge of a church in the Lismore Diocese when he molested two boys at his parish house at Mallanganee Presbytery, west of Casino, in the mid 1980s. Casey was in his 30s when he digitally penetrated a boy’s anus as he washed him in the shower and ejaculated towards the head of another boy.
Now 72, and serving a minimum three-year jail sentence, Casey was employed as a police chaplain up until the day of his arrest in July 2015 after his victims finally came forward. At the second of two lengthy trials, a jury found him guilty in 2018 of two charges including sexual assault of a person under 16 without consent and indecent assault of a person under 16 without consent.
Casey was found not guilty of four additional charges and was sentenced to four years and ten months jail. He appealed against his convictions in the Supreme Court on the grounds there had been a miscarriage of justice, claiming the judge had not properly explained that the jury could take into account reasonable doubt and the prosecution’s pursuit of him was an abuse of process.
Casey had previously been found not guilty of 16 charges, with a jury hung on another 11 counts, at his first trial in 2016. It meant a significant portion of evidence heard in the first trial, which the jury found to be unreliable in parts, was unable to be used in the second.
During the appeal, his lawyer Philip Boulten, SC, complained that by the Crown “tendering a sanitised version of the complainants’ evidence, the jury was not provided with the complete picture”.
Mr Boulten also contended the tendency evidence of another alleged sexual assault was admitted into the trial by error and the jury returned an unreasonable verdict. Police had originally charged Casey with 27 offences relating to 18 allegations of child sexual abuse to which he pleaded not guilty at the 2016 trial.
Ordained in 1974, Casey spent the majority of his time in the church working in the Lismore Diocese and was appointed as one of four regional vicars in the 1990s. He briefly served in the parish of Ingham in Townsville in the late 1970s before returning to NSW. He didn’t appear on screen at the Supreme Court on Wednesday when a panel of justices dismissed his appeal. Casey will be eligible for parole in May 2021.
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