By Caroline O’Doherty of The Irish Examiner
VICTIMS of paedophile brother James Kelly reacted with outrage yesterday after the Court of Criminal Appeal refused to increase a jail term he received for years of sexually abusing young boys in his care.
It is now possible he will be out of prison before Christmas after serving less than four years despite at one stage being sentenced to a record 36 years behind bars.
John Barrett, who represents a group of survivors in Cork, said he was devastated by the decision, which came as a complete shock, as the victims had not been told the case was up for hearing yesterday.
“It’s like as if we never existed,” Mr Barrett said.
“Did they forget the pain we went through?
“This man raped us night after night for four and five years.
“I feel I’ve been raped again by the court. They might as well have stuck a knife in me.”
Kelly, also known as Brother Ambrose, was first jailed in 1999 at the age of 74 when he was sentenced to 36 years for the sexual abuse of boys as young as eight in the Lota Residential Home for disadvantaged and mentally handicapped children in Cork in the 1950s and 1960s.
On appeal after just 18 months in jail, he was granted early release providing his order, the Brothers of Charity, could find a home for him out of the country.
Several failed attempts were made to place him in Britain and Belgium, but, in the meantime, while still behind bars, he was served with a further 77 summons relating to sexual assaults on children in Cork and Galway. In March this year, he was sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to five years in prison on those offences, but four years of the term were suspended. The reasons given included his advanced age and poor health.
The Director of Public Prosecutions immediately appealed the leniency of the sentence, but the appeal was thrown out of court yesterday. With remission, that means Kelly can apply to the court in Cork to sanction his
release next month.
Mr Barrett said he was baffled by the court’s decision and questioned whether a leniency agreement existed between the State and the religious orders because of the orders’ multi-million euro contribution to a national compensation fund for victims of abuse.
“He (Kelly) is the most serious serial paedophile this country has produced. If he gets half a chance to rape a child again, he will do it. It’s ridiculous. Are we ever going to be listened to? How many more convictions does he have to get before the State takes this seriously and puts him away for life?”
Uncertainty now surrounds plans for Kelly’s future as it is not clear whether the Brothers of Charity have been able to make any arrangements to house him abroad.
A spokesperson for the order said the congregation would be considering the situation in light of yesterday’s
Mr Barrett said he and the other Lota abuse survivors did not want Kelly to be sent abroad. “We want him to serve the 36 years and we want him to serve it in Ireland. Here’s where he did the crime and here’s where he should do the time”Posted by paul at November 08, 2002 11:09 AM