May 2008

Priest jailed after he admits abusing children

A Catholic priest has been jailed for four years after admitting a string of sex attacks on young children.

Father John Benedict Corrigan, 71, was extradited from Ireland to the UK to face charges for sexually abusing three boys and a girl in Durham and Tyneside.

He pleaded guilty to seven counts of indecent assault on boys aged between eight and 13, between 1967 and 1972.

Some of the offences occurred when Fr “Ben” of Westport, Mayo, worked at St Wilfrid’s Church in Gateshead.

He admitted the attacks against the boys shortly after he was extradited last year and the publicity led to a fourth female victim coming forward.

He later admitted two indecent assaults on the 15-year-old girl, nearly 40 years ago, at Newcastle Crown Court.

Speaking after the hearing, Father Dennis Tindall, the safeguarding co-ordinator for the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, said: “I think justice has been done for the people whose lives have been harmed by Father Corrigan.

“I have worked with the victims for a number of years and I know they have suffered greatly.

“For the members of the families who were here today they will feel they can move on.”

Fr Tindall said that when allegations are made against members of the Catholic Church, procedures are now in place to investigate them fully.


He pleaded guilty to indecently assaulting a girl between January and December 1970 when she was 15 and he was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register last November when he admitted offences of indecent assault on boys between 1967 and 1972.

Judge David Hodgson said: “You thought no one would complain and even if they did, their word would not be believed against yours.

“You were in an especially privileged position and were regarded by parishioners as a person with whom the safety and innocence of children in your charge would be safe.”