Ex-Northampton diocese Catholic priest GUILTY of 18 counts of historical sex offences

A jury has delivered a unanimous guilty verdict for a former Northampton diocese priest facing multiple charges of sexual abuse.

Father Francis McDermott, aged 74, was found guilty by a jury at Aylesbury Crown Court yesterday (Tuesday) of five counts of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 14, one count of gross indecency with a child under the age of 14, one count of indecent assault on a boy under the age of 16, five counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 14 and six counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 16.

Father Francis McDermott was found guilty of 18 counts of historical sex offences

Father Francis McDermott was found guilty of 18 counts of historical sex offences

McDermott was found guilty by unanimous verdict on 16 of the 18 guilty counts and by majority jury on the further two counts.

The offences were committed against six victims across the country. None of the offences were committed in Northampton.

He has been remanded in custody.

They took place between 1971 and 1978 in the Northampton diocese where McDermott, who know lives in Bideford, Devon, worked as a priest.

He was acquitted of a further eight counts; one count of rape, five counts of indecent assault, one count of gross indecency and one count of buggery.

Investigating officer Detective Constable Catriona Cameron, of the Child Abuse Investigation Department in Aylesbury police station, said: “Francis McDermott was a priest in the Catholic Church held in high regard and was a trusted member of the community. He used his position to befriend children for his own sexual gratification.

“The six victims in this case bravely came forward to report the abuse they suffered more than 40 years ago. I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their courage and support of this investigation.

“They have been put through the trauma of a trial adding extra distress to them, and McDermott showed no remorse.

“Thames Valley Police will always take reports of any sexual offence seriously and will investigate reports thoroughly whether these are recent or non-recent.

“I hope this is the start of a healing process for all those involved.”

The NSPCC has also praised the victims who came forward.

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “It’s quite astonishing that McDermott sought support off one victim of his sickening abuse in an attempt to silence another he attacked when she was a young girl.

“But the courage of those he abused and manipulated means the catalogue of his vile crimes has now been exposed despite his twisted attempt to blame the victims.

“Sexual abuse is never the fault of the victim and it’s important that survivors know it is never too late to come forward and seek support.”

The NSPCC Helpline is available 24/7 for adult survivors of sexual abuse to contact for support and advice on 0808 800 5000 or via help@nspcc.org.uk.

McDermott is due to be sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court on March 14.