Alexander Walsh 10 Jul 2012 Court of Appeal (Catholic Priest)

The several appeals posted today are all relevant to the Christian Church. See a list of all of them here at the end of the day – Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

Alexander Walsh was a Roman Catholic Priest for many years, probably in the Stoke area. Offences between 1977 and 1992, youngest boy aged 8

Redaction

Some court reports have had victims names redacted and some assault details redacted.

This is a difficult balance –  normally I would think that  I should not “censor” details but on consultation with various people I have taken the decision to redact. This is mainly to protect victims, their friends and relatives from unnecessary detail and to stop the gratification of those who seek salacious details.

In addition to the obvious “victims redaction” to protect victims details, there may also be “assault redaction” across most of the spectrum of abuse. The assaults are left in the charges, but mainly redacted when repeated with reference to the individual. I have also redacted unnecessary detail of assaults.

Redaction may obscure sometimes the legal reason for the appeal, but should make no large difference to the vital information for researchers that these documents contain. That vital information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, institutions where assaults occurred, the actual charges the perpetrators faced, and dates – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links between people and places and abuse at various times to be ascertained.

Some transcripts may have been subject to automatic reading software and whilst effort has been made to correct these, the text should not be regarded as definitive.  Common mistakes in reprinting here are that quotation marks are sometimes not correct, replaced by odd symbols.

If you think that the balance is not correct or that a particular redaction needs reconsideration, please say.

This appeal is unredacted by cathy fox blog

Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog [1]

Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

[2012] EWCA Crim 1843

No: 2012/1712/A7

IN THE COURT OF APPEAL CRIMINAL DIVISION

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lord Justice Aikens

Regina

v.

Alexander Walsh


Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of WordWave International Limited A Merrill Communications Company 165 Fleet Street London EC4A 2DY Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838 (Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

Mr M Watson appeared on behalf of the Applicant

JUDGMENT

(As Approved by the Court)

1.

LORD JUSTICE AIKENS: This is a renewed application for leave to appeal against sentence following the refusal of the single judge to grant leave. The applicant is now aged 58. He was for many years a Roman Catholic Priest. After a 12 day trial in the Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court before His Honour Judge Glenn and a jury, the applicant was convicted of 21 offences under the Sexual Offences Act 1956. Nineteen offences were of indecent assault on a male. Two offences were of buggery. The offences took place between 1977 and 1992 and involved eight young boys who were between the ages of eight and 14 when the offences took place.

2. There is no need to go into the detail of the offences. The applicant held positions in various schools and Parishes and in those positions and as a priest he obtained the trust of the families of the victims. He abused that trust. The most serious offences were two offences of buggery of one boy who was between the ages of eight and ten at the time of the offences. The offences of indecent assault varied from touching on the back of a boy’s legs or back, to masturbation, oral sex and the insertion of a finger or other object into the boy’s anus.

3. The total sentence imposed on the applicant was one of imprisonment for 22 years. For the two buggery offences he was sentenced to 10 years, with one sentence made consecutive to consecutive sentences of two years, four years and six years that were imposed in respect of three of the indecent assaults. All other sentences were ordered to run concurrently, hence the total of 22 years. The applicant was found not guilty on six counts.

4. In January 2005 the applicant had been convicted of 19 offences of making indecent images of children and possessing such images. For those offences he had been sentenced to a community rehabilitation order for two years.

5. The sentencing judge had before him many letters attesting to the good work that the applicant had done as a priest. The judge took those into account. However, when he passed sentence the judge said that the applicant’s attitude to the proceedings had been shameless, that he had shown no remorse and that he had repeatedly lied to avoid responsibility.

6. The judge noted that the victims had been profoundly affected by the offences against them and that in one case the victim had tried to kill himself after the applicant had penetrated the victim’s anus with an object.

7. The judge appreciated that he had to sentence the applicant on the basis of the maximum sentences applicable at the time that the offences occurred. However, he also rightly acknowledged that he must sentence on the basis of the sentencing guidelines in force at the time of sentencing unless it would be contrary to the interests of justice in the case to do so. The judge referred to the recent case of R v H [2012] 1 WLR 1416 in which the Lord Chief Justice sitting in this court reiterated the guidelines for sentencing in the case of sexual offences where the offence had happened many years ago but had only recently come to light and then been the subject of prosecution.

8. It is acknowledged by Mr Watson, who appears on behalf of the applicant, that in general terms the judge approached the sentencing exercise correctly and that there could be no criticism of the individual sentences imposed when taken separately. However, he submits that the judge erred in three separate respects, although one of those is we understand no longer pressed. That is that the judge failed to give insufficient weight to the evidence of the applicant’s positive attitudes. Otherwise, it is submitted that the judge should have taken into account the fact that the sentencing regime in force at the time of the vast majority of these cases, and in particular those of the two most serious, were such that an offender who was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of more than four years was a “long term” prisoner and was liable to remain in custody for up to two-thirds of his sentence, rather than half of the total sentence as under the current regime. Accordingly, the applicant has been sentenced under present guidelines which are based, it is submitted, on the fact that the offender will serve half of the total sentence in prison. Lastly, it is submitted that the present guidelines are considerably stiffer than those for sentences that were in force at the time when these offences occurred. Accordingly, it is submitted that the judge should have taken account of those factors and that in all the circumstances the sentences imposed were too long.

9. We think that there is no force in the points that are made. The point about the regime for “long term” prisoners and its effect on sentences that are now imposed was dealt with specifically by the Lord Chief Justice in R v H at paragraph 19. The Lord Chief Justice also dealt with the question of imposing sentences in respect of offences which occurred a long time ago and the need to follow, in so far as the interests of justice permit, current sentencing guidelines. In our judgment, the judge followed exactly the parameters as set out by the Lord Chief Justice in R v H .

10. When the single judge refused leave, he commented that the offences of the applicant were in total of the utmost gravity and the effect on some victims was life long. Despite the applicant’s undoubted pastoral gifts, his conduct was one of unimaginable breach of trust. The single judge further commented that overall, although the sentence was a tough one for the applicant, it could not be said that it was too long.

11. We agree with those comments. Accordingly this application must be refused.

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]

Links

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About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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2 Responses to Alexander Walsh 10 Jul 2012 Court of Appeal (Catholic Priest)

  1. Pingback: An Index and Timeline of Court and Court of Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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