Retired Catholic Priest on trial at Aylesbury Crown Court accused of sexually assaulting children

Aylesbury Crown Court
Aylesbury Crown Court

Francis McDermott, a 75-year-old retired Catholic Priest, has appeared at Aylesbury Crown Court accused of sexually assaulting six children between 1971 and 1979.

A complainant, now in his 50's, who alleges he was sexually abused hundreds of times between the ages of 10 to 17 by the defendant, including up to seven incidences of penetration, said he was introduced to the Priest when his parents befriended him in London.

He described Father McDermott as having a very high sex drive, saying: “He was sex mad. He was always talking about it.”

The accuser said he slept 'top to toe' with the defendant when he stopped over after drinking parties, and this is where the alleged abuse began.

Fast-forwarding to 2004, the witness was contacted by the Priest after the latter had been accused of sexually assaulting a young girl be-known to the witness. She believed the witness had knowledge of her assaults, which also took place in the 1970's.

Before meeting Mr McDermott, the witness purchased a tape recorder and recorded their conversation.

The witness said: “I just wanted to record what he said as I sensed panic. I guessed it was about the sexual abuse.”

On the tape the complainant can be heard saying he didn't see the alleged offences against the then 12-year-old girl, but did refer to fondling that took place between himself and the Priest.

The Priest also says on the tape that he believes the girl was an attention-seeker who had a crush on him.

“I can't understand, 30 years down the lane, why she's saying it,” he says on the 2004 recording.

The complainant then sat on this tape for over a decade, “I decided not to pursue it,” he said, and it was only after seeking therapy following the break-up of his second marriage that he decided to report his own abuse.

Patrick Hill QC for the defence made great play of the witness's mental health, telling the jury that he had been held for some time in a mental institution, which the witnessed denied, describing himself as an 'outpatient'.

In a heated exchange, the defence then sought to imply that the abuse was getting worse in the complainants' mind due to the influence of his therapy. The defence said that what began as “touching and masturbation” soon became thousands of sexual assaults after the therapy sessions.

But the complainant responded forcefully:

“The abuse wasn't getting worse, I was admitting more.”

Mr Hill then moved on to querying why a second meeting between the defendant and the complainant had not been recorded back in 2004, suggesting that the reason was because he was asking the Priest about compensation.

The witness responded: “This is all fabricated.”

Father McDermott, now of Bideford in Devon but who moved between London, Aylesbury and High Wycombe in the 1970's, is charged with 18 counts of indecent assault, four counts of indecent assault on a male person, two counts of indecency with a child, one count of buggery and one count of rape. The former Priest denies the charges.

The trial continues.