Former Diocese of Northampton priest sentenced to nine years and 11 months for sexually abusing six children - full court report

A Roman Catholic priest has been described as “a disgusting, despicable, lying monster” by one of his victims before being sentenced to nine years, 11 months imprisonment at a hearing at Aylesbury Crown Court.

Thursday, 14th March 2019, 4:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th March 2019, 5:46 pm
Francis McDermott

Francis McDermott, 75, now of Bideford, Devon but who practised at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bedgrove in Aylesbury from 1990 to his retirement in 2005, had been found guilty last month on 18 counts of sexually abusing six children between 1971 and 1979 in High Wycombe and Norwich.

All six victims submitted personal statements to Judge Catherine Tulk for consideration.

Two of them chose to read their statements before the court.

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Francis McDermott

One victim described how innocent their life had been before Mr McDermott came into their life.

They said: “All this innocent, childlike fun ended when you started to abuse me.”

The victim concluded: “I survived your abuse and control but I fully believe I would have been a different person.

“I mourn you sexually abusing me and changing my future – I hate you.”

Aylesbury Crown Court

As the victim walked past the former priest they defiantly stared their abuser in the eye.

A second accused Mr McDermott of using his position to gain access to them.

They said: “He used my parent's trust, particularly my mother's, and religious indoctrination to abuse me over a long period of time.”

They went on to criticise the Catholic Church after initially reporting Mr McDermott's behaviour to the diocese in 1997, telling how they even got the victim's name wrong in their response.

They added: “Their intervention on my behalf was ineffectual.”

Before passing sentences on the 18 guilty verdicts, which totalled almost ten years imprisonment, Judge Tulk was scornful of Father McDermott's lack of contrition.

“The fact that you turned down so many opportunities to admit your wrongdoing is relevant in this regard. Every time you denied all the allegations, in my view this was an aggravating factor for the victims seeking justice.”

The Bishop of Northampton, Peter Doyle, issued a statement after today's sentencing.

“My heart goes out to all those affected by these terrible crimes," he said.

"How courageous the women and men have been after having carried the wounds of abuse for more than forty years. My hope is that the sentence today will aid in the long journey of healing for the victims and survivors of this abuse."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “McDermott used his trusted position as a priest to not only groom children but also their families in order to commit sickening abuse.

“He probably thought he had long got away with his vile crimes but the young people he manipulated and abused all those years ago have today helped put him behind bars.

“Their courage shows that it is never too late to report abuse and for victims who may have suffered for years in silence to come forward and get support.”

Adult victims of non-recent abuse can call the NSPCC Helpline for advice and support on 0808 800 5000.