Abuse priest Alexander Bede Walsh jailed for 22 years


Click to follow
The Independent Online

A paedophile priest was today branded "shameless" by a judge and jailed for 22 years for a campaign of sexual abuse of young boys.

Alexander Bede Walsh was convicted last month of 21 sexual offences, spanning a period of 18 years.

A 10-day trial at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court heard that the Catholic clergyman used his "revered" status to prey on his victims, abusing boys in Coventry, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. The abuse, described to the court as "serial and predatory", took place between 1975 and 1993.

At the same court this afternoon, Judge Glenn told him: "Shameless accurately describes your attitude to these proceedings, you have shown no remorse at any time.

"In fact, the jury was satisfied you lied repeatedly to them."

The judge told him: "You used God's name as a lever ... manipulating God's teaching for your own devices."

Walsh, of Church Lane, Abbots Bromley, Staffordshire, worked in parishes in Coventry, Banbury and north Staffordshire after being ordained in 1979.

He also served at a Roman Catholic boarding school in Staffordshire and at a now closed children's home in Coleshill, Warwickshire.

He was arrested and interviewed in 2006 after two men contacted police to claim they had been abused in Coventry as children.

Further complainants came forward between 2008 and last year and all eight victims gave evidence at the trial.

The 58-year-old was convicted of two serious sexual offences and 19 counts of indecent assault against boys aged between eight and 16.

The Most Rev Bernard Longley, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, said he had been "shocked and appalled" by the abuse.

In a statement issued after Walsh's conviction, the Archbishop said: "These are horrendous crimes, and I first want to express my deep sense of shame at what has taken place.

"It is the most serious betrayal of trust. I also want to express my profound sorrow and deep regret to each of the victims, then children, now adults, for the abuse perpetrated by Father Bede Walsh, whom they and their families trusted as a priest."

The court heard that Walsh made some of his victims dress up in disposable nappies. He was convicted in January 2005 for photographs of young boys found on his computer - some of which depicted boys in nappies and swimming trunks.

The judge said: "The victims were all young, they were all vulnerable.

"Some had to suffer the additional degradation of being made to wear nappies and be photographed."

Referring to one of the boys who was subjected to a serious sexual assault by Walsh, the judge said: "Such was his religious conviction, he believed he was being touched by the hand of God...that he was on the path to God."

The court heard that after that victim was assaulted he went home and tried to hang himself.

The judge told Walsh: "The fact that the victims came forward as late as they did is indicative of their continuing inner turmoil."

As Walsh was led out of the dock a man in the public gallery applauded and shouted, "Good riddance."

Walsh showed no emotion.

Detective Constable Tim Bailey, from Staffordshire Police, led the investigation into Walsh's crimes.

He said: "I am very pleased with the result. The judge is right, he is shameless.

"He has shown no remorse, throughout the whole investigation and the trial.

"The victims are serving a life sentence in this case, so now Walsh can serve his sentence.

"It was difficult for them to come forward, they are all grown men.

"If Walsh had any integrity or decency he would not have put them through it.

"To drag them to court to relive those experiences in front of people they don't know, it is disgraceful, terrible.

"He is a disgrace to humanity."