Following a Thames Valley Police investigation, a former priest has been convicted of 18 counts of non-recent sexual offences.
Today (14/3), Francis McDermott, aged 74, of Atlantic Way, Westward Ho!, Bideford, Devon was sentenced to nine years’ and 11 months’ imprisonment at Aylesbury Crown Court.
On 19 February, McDermott was found guilty by a jury at the same court of the following:
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.
Six counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 16.
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. He has been remanded in custody.
They took place between 1971 and 1978 in High Wycombe and Norwich where McDermott 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 Unit in Aylesbury, said: “Between 1971 and 1978, in High Wycombe and Norwich, former priest Francis McDermott carried out these crimes against six victims.
“He was held in high regard as a trusted member of the community. However, he used his position to befriend children, gain their trust and groom them. He then abused them for his own sexual gratification, with no regards for the impact this would have on them.
“His victims were boys and girls who were aged between 12 and 16 when the abuse occurred.
“McDermott has now been convicted of 18 counts relating to sexual offences.
“These crimes have had a lifelong effect on his six victims. They 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.
“It is thanks to their bravery, and the work of investigating officers, that justice has now been done.
“McDermott did not admit his crimes and they have been put through the trauma of a trial adding extra distress to them. He has shown no remorse.
“These offences took place in the 1970s, but this conviction demonstrates that no matter how long ago offences occurred, Thames Valley Police will take reports seriously, investigate and look to secure convictions against those responsible wherever possible.
“McDermott’s crimes had life-changing consequences for his victims, who have had to live with the memory of his abuse for the majority of their lives. I hope this is the start of a healing process for them and their families.”
Anyone who has been a victim of a sexual offence can report via the 24 hours enquiry centre by calling 101.
Notes to editors
No-one is available for interview but there is a digital media pack available which includes stories from the victims and a statement from the investigating officer.
The interview with the victim called ‘Eleanor’ is available on a pool basis through the Press Association details of who to contact are on our digital media pack page.