April 2003

Sex abuse priest jailed

A former Catholic priest has been jailed for six years for indecently assaulting youngsters at a children’s home in the early 1970s.

A second ex-priest escaped a jail sentence despite also being convicted of offences against children at the home in Kent.

David Murphy, 56, from Edinburgh, was jailed on Friday after pleading guilty at Maidstone Crown Court to eight counts of indecent assault.

But 51-year-old Michael McConville, from London, was convicted of four offences and ordered to do 100 hours of community service.

Admitted sexual relationship

The charges against both men related to when they worked as young priests at the St Mary’s home in Gravesend.

Murphy had been posted to the home in 1969 by the Catholic Children’s Society (CCS) and McConville followed a year later.

The court heard McConville, of Delaune Street, Walworth, south-east London, started a relationship with a teenage girl at the home after he became senior house father.

He admitted having a sexual relationship with the girl, but said it was after she passed the age of consent.

But in February he was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault on a girl under the age of 16, and of one count of indecent assault on a 14-year-old boy.

He was cleared of four other charges relating to allegations of sexual abuse by the same boy, and charges of sexual abuse against two younger girls at the home.

Murphy, of Portobello High Street, Edinburgh, had pleaded guilty to all eight charges of indecent assault against him, offences committed at St Mary’s or at Lisieux House in Orpington.

‘Pleased with sentence’

He will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life, while McConville will be on the register for five years.

None of the sexual abuse allegations came to light until 1994 when a former resident, then in her 30s, told a Catholic priest baptising one of her own children, about what had happened.

The CCS carried out an internal investigation before the police became involved and both men left the priesthood, before being arrested in 2001.

Detective Sergeant Tony Cannon, of Kent Police, said after the sentencing: “There were victims and relatives in court today. They were very pleased with Murphy’s sentence but less so with McConville’s.

“Their view was he should have gone to jail.”