Former Catholic Priest James Murphy jailed again for child sexual offences | Bolt Burdon Kemp Former Catholic Priest James Murphy jailed again for child sexual offences | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Former Catholic Priest James Murphy jailed again for child sexual offences

A former Catholic priest has been jailed for sexual abuse against several boys as young as five.

James Murphy, 77, was sentenced to 31 months in prison for historic sexual abuse while he served communities across south London.

BBK lawyers Hayyin Fan, Emma Barrow and Gurleen Arora attended the sentencing at Inner London Crown Court on Monday, 29 April and heard how Murphy preyed on altar boys, cubs and scouts connected to his churches.

He was previously convicted of 16 counts of sexual abuse in 2000.

Targeting six boys between 1977 and 1983, the abuse took place in the sacristy, the presbytery, during car journeys, at Butlins in Minehead and at parish events. At the time, Murphy was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment and was ordered to be placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register.

Four more victims came forward in recent years and Murphy was charged with another seven counts of abuse against four boys between 1977 and 1988. Murphy had initially pleaded not guilty for two of the counts, before later changing his plea to guilty to all of the counts against him at a hearing on 16 February 2024. This prevented the victims from having to relive their awful experiences through a trial.

Murphy was first posted at the Church of the Good Shepherd at Addington, in Croydon, south London, before moving on to the Church of the English Martyrs in Streatham, south London, and later joining Our Lady and St Philip Neri in Sydenham, south east London. His final appointment was with St Gertrudes in South Croydon before he abruptly returned to Cork, Ireland in 1990 where he remained for 10 years.

The Inner London Crown Court heard the abuse took place in a church and church car park, and at one of the victims’ homes. It was told that the youngest victim had been aged approximately four to five-years-old when they were abused by Murphy.

One of the victims had first reported the abuse to the police in 2005. However, it was not until recent years that other victims came forward and further investigations meant that Murphy could finally be brought to justice for his crimes.

The victim impact statements were read out to the court during the hearing this week.

In it, one of the victims recalled how Murphy had abused him in his family home, his safe place, after developing a trusting relationship with his family. It left him feeling suicidal and worthless, with the impact on his enjoyment of life continuing to affect him to this day.

On sentencing, Judge Kelleher found Murphy had plainly abused his position as a priest and the trust placed in him by the children and their parents to sexually abuse altar boys, cubs and scouts associated with the church at the time he was a priest.

Judge Kelleher acknowledged that the harm caused by Murphy to the boys, whom are now adults, has been immense. Judge Kelleher noted their personal statements described in detail how the abuse has affected their lives in different ways. Murphy was also ordered to be subject to the notification requirements under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 for the rest of his life.

I was pleased to see justice served in court this week. Murphy had a duty to look after those in his care but instead, he abused his position of power as a Catholic priest to manipulate young boys and to take advantage of their vulnerability.

I hope this sentencing will encourage more victims to come forward to the police to report what has happened to them. The victim statements read in court today showed how survivors often have to live with the consequences of abuse for decades, and it can often bring up difficult and traumatic memories and feelings.

It is important survivors know there is support available and they are not alone. As well as obtaining justice through the criminal process, survivors can be compensated through the civil process for the harm caused to them by the abuse. Bolt Burdon Kemp is committed to supporting survivors of abuse in obtaining the compensation that they rightly deserve.

A civil claim for compensation can enable survivors to access funding for therapy and losses as a result of abuse they have experienced.

Anyone who has suffered abuse can contact me directly for free, no-obligation advice about their rights.

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