Paedophile priest Francis Paul Cullen avoided police for 20 years

Cullen admitted dozens of charges of historical sex abuse against seven children in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire

Related Stories

The fugitive paedophile priest Paul Cullen evaded capture by the police for more than 20 years living on the Spanish island of Tenerife.

But the 85-year-old was not living under an alias - he was using his own name in the resort of Los Cristianos.

Cullen has admitted dozens of charges of historical sex abuse against seven children in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, dating back to 1957.

He is due to be sentenced at the same court next month.

Cullen's victims were all children, some of them only six-years-old.

'Normal person'

They included altar boys, connected to three churches - St Mary's in Hyson Green, Nottingham; Christ the King in Mackworth, Derby, and St Anne's in Buxton, Derbyshire.

Francis Paul Cullen in the 1960s and in 2013 Francis Paul Cullen abused children over a 36-year period.

Sexual abuse allegations were made against Cullen in 1991 and he appeared in court in Nottingham but a month later he skipped bail.

After police circulated a description, a priest in Playa de las Americas, Tenerife, recognised him and Cullen was arrested in 2012.

Timeline of abuse

Paul Cullen
  • 1953 - Dublin-born Paul Cullen is ordained as a priest in Birmingham
  • 1957 - He worked at Christ the King church, Mackworth, when the earliest abuse happened
  • He later served at St Anne's church in Buxton
  • Late 1980s - He served at St Mary's in Hyson Green, Nottingham
  • 1991 - He retired from the church because of "ill health"
  • The same year he appeared at Nottingham Magistrates' Court on charges of sexual abuse but skipped bail a month later
  • 2012 - Found on Tenerife after police circulated information
  • February 2014 - He pleads guilty at Derby Crown Court to 41 counts of sexual abuse

Det Con Matt Goodwin said it took 21 years to arrest the priest because "he did not want to be found".

"We had some concrete information in 2012 that Father Cullen had been living in Tenerife. That information had come to us from the Catholic Safeguarding Board," he said.

"That was the start in getting a European warrant to get this man back to this country."

It is believed Cullen lived openly in an apartment block for about 15 years, before being kicked out for non-payment of a community fee.

Father Jose Estevex Herrar, parish priest in Los Cristianos, said Cullen attended services "once or twice a month".

He said: "Once, perhaps two years ago, he told me he was a priest.

"I was surprised. I have seen him before - just a normal person and suddenly he's a priest.

"It was impossible to think of that man coming here regularly and then suddenly he was a criminal. Not in Asia, Australia, Thailand but here in a European community.

"He was a normal person among the others - from what I could see, of course."

'Charismatic'

David Elliott from Matlock, Derbyshire, who has lived on the island for 18 years, said he was "not surprised" someone could hide there.

"The clientele changes all the time. There are new faces around all the time," he said.

"I am not surprised because there are such a lot of people here. But it does seem a long length of time, 21 years."

Cullen, who helped to build Christ the King Church in Mackworth, abused some of his victims over many years. They were all connected to the church, police said.

Father Andrew Cole, of the diocese of Nottingham, said: "I think he probably was a charismatic priest - I have heard that said about him, but he abused that position of trust.

"There will be people that remember him fondly but I hope that's tempered by the shadow side of his life."

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC Derby

Weather

Derby

Min. Night 7 °C

BBC Local Live

  1.  
    News on the hour 15:57: Kelly Smith Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 16:00 bulletin, I'll bring you more on a Sinfin man being jailed after admitting shaking his baby, causing him severe brain injuries.

     
  2.  
    Your photos: Peak view 15:50: Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    Keith Bown sent us this photo of a view looking towards Sheffield from High Bradfield in the Peak District.

    High Bradfield

    Email or tweet us your finest photos of our area. I'll showcase the best examples on Local Live.

     
  3.  
    New look for cup draw 15:40:

    Monday's FA Cup first round draw will take place at St George's Park near Burton, following this weekend's final qualifying games.

    All of this season's draws are taking place in front of an audience at football venues across the country.

     
  4.  
    Firefighters' strike called 15:34:

    Firefighters in England are to strike for four days from 31 October in a row over pensions, their union says.

     
  5.  
    Extra hour in bed 15:24: Lauren Potts BBC Local Live

    We finally get that extra hour in bed when the clocks go back this weekend.

    The clocks go back one hour at 02:00 on Sunday, meaning the country will be on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), giving us light mornings and darker evenings.

    Moving the clocks was first introduced during World War One by Germany and Austria to save on coal usage.

     
  6.  
    Weekend weather 15:10:

    BBC Weather has shared this snapshot of the weekend's weather outlook.

    Weekend weather round-up
     
  7.  
    News on the hour 14:59: Kelly Smith Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    A Sinfin man's been jailed after he admitted shaking his baby son and leaving him with severe brain injuries.

    In the news bulletin on BBC Radio Derby we'll hear from our reporter Martyn Williams who has been in court and following the case.

     
  8.  
    Illumination rumours rubbished 14:48:

    Derbyshire Dales District Council tweets: Rumours that the last night of our #MatlockBath #Illuminations tomorrow has been cancelled are absolute rubbish! goo.gl/xtt6t4

     
  9.  
    Tributes to Walter Burrows 14:41: Derbyshire Times

    A Chesterfield county councillor - hailed as a "lovely man and a great servant" - has died.

     
  10.  
    Father 'abused trust' 14:20:

    More from Judge Jonathan Gosling, who sentenced Sinfin father Luke Kerwin to three years and two months in prison for shaking his baby son so hard he suffered severe brain injuries.

    Luke Kerwin

    He told Kerwin: "You were in a position of trust. This was your baby and you were his sole carer and you abused that trust."

     
  11.  
    Angry scenes 14:05: Martyn Williams Reporter, BBC Radio Derby

    After sentencing, the grandmother of injured child Mason Kerwin, on his mother's side, shouted at the child's father: "I hope you rot in hell. You'll pay for what you did."

     
  12.  
    News on the hour 13:55: Kelly Smith Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 14:00 bulletin, I'll have the latest from Derby Crown Court where a 25-year-old man has been jailed for causing life-changing brain damage to his then four-month-old son.

     
  13.  
    Sentence 'can't reverse consequences' 13:48:

    The judge at Derby Crown Court told Kerwin: "You picked that baby up and shook him with sufficient force to fracture his ribs and seriously damage his brain.

    "No sentence that I pass can reverse the consequences of what you did."

     
  14.  
    Mother had been suspect 13:39:

    Police had originally arrested Luke Kerwin and Mason's mother Olivia Shaw once the seriousness of his injuries became apparent.

    Olivia Shaw and Mason Kirwan

    But shortly after, Kerwin was identified as the lone suspect.

    Speaking to BBC Radio Derby earlier, Ms Shaw (pictured with Mason) said she would never get over what had happened to her son.

     
  15.  
    Baby shake father sentenced 13:33:

    Luke Kerwin, 25, from Sinfin, pleaded guilty to attacking his four-month-old son Mason in April 2013.

    The assault left the child, now aged two, suffering regular seizures and needing constant supervision from his mother and her family.

     
  16.  
    BREAKING NEWS

    Luke Kerwin is jailed for three years and two months for causing grievous bodily harm after admitting shaking his baby son so hard it left him with severe brain injuries.

     
  17.  
    Private health company wins contract 13:24: Chris Doidge BBC Radio Derby political reporter

    Private company One Medical Group has been awarded the contract to provide walk-in centres in Derby, beating a bid from Derby Hospitals NHS Trust.

    The centres will now be GP-led rather than nurse-led and will see a wider range of injuries treated.

     
  18.  
    Fight to keep top spot 13:09: Owen Bradley BBC Radio Derby Sport

    Derby County boss Steve McClaren has warned his players they will need to fight even harder to keep their place at the top of the Championship table.

    Steve McClaren

    The Rams replaced Watford in top spot on Tuesday and face Wigan Athletic at home tomorrow.

     
  19.  
    News on the hour 12:57: Kelly Smith Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    The commissioning group behind the new health centre in Heanor says although it won't have any inpatient beds, more will be created elsewhere in the community.

    I'll have more on this in my 13:00 news bulletin on BBC Radio Derby.

     
  20.  
    Chancellor tours Toyota 12:46: Robert Peston Economics editor

    I spoke to George Osborne about the UK's slowing growth, following his tour of Toyota in Derby.

    George Osborne at Toyota

    The chancellor says he takes comfort there is still strong momentum in the economy, at a time when the Eurozone has run out of puff.

    But he repeated what he told me a fortnight ago, that we cannot be immune to the growth-braking impact of stagnation or worse in France, Italy and Germany.

     
  21.  
    East Midlands Today 12:35: Maurice Flynn Presenter

    On BBC One at 13:30, a look ahead to Derbyshire's chances of being home to the region's new HS2 hub.

     
  22.  
    Mike Read on 'that' song 12:25: Andy Potter Presenter, BBC Radio Derby

    After 13:00, former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read will be talking about withdrawing his controversial UKIP Calypso song and the release of his autobiography. Listen live.

    Mike Read
     
  23.  
    Shaken baby 'still at risk' 12:11: BBC Radio Derby

    Olivia Shaw described how she and her two-year-old son Mason were still dealing with the consequences of his father's assault on him in April 2013, which left the toddler with severe brain injuries.

    Olivia Shaw and Mason Kerwin

    She said: "He's on £800 worth of medicine a day and with him still having seizures, there's always the risk he could lose his life."

     
  24.  
    News on the hour 11:57: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    Heanor is to get a new £2.5m health centre. I'll bring you all the details in my 12:00 news bulletin.

     
  25.  
    Hospital to be replaced 11:38:

    Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills tweets: Thanks to all those 4,000 constituents who signed my petition to enhance services in Heanor. We're going to see a new hospital built.

     
  26.  
    First look at new arena 11:22: Chris Doidge BBC Radio Derby political reporter

    The public will be able to look around the new Derby Arena in December ahead of its official opening in the new year.

    Derby Arena

    The £28m venue was officially handed over to the city council at a ceremony yesterday.

     
  27.  
    Shaken baby sentencing delayed 11:06: East Midlands Today

    The sentencing of Luke Kerwin, the father who pleaded guilty to giving his baby son severe brain injuries by shaking him, has been put back to this afternoon because of a delay in bringing him to court.

     
  28.  
    News on the hour 10:56: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 11:00 bulletin, I'll have more on the decision, taken in the past half hour, to replace Heanor Memorial Hospital.

     
  29.  
    Hospital demolition agreed 10:45: Chris Doidge BBC Radio Derby political reporter

    A plan to demolish Heanor Memorial Hospital and build a new £2.5m health centre in its place has been formally agreed by South Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group.

     
  30.  
    Hospital decision to be made 10:31: Chris Doidge BBC Radio Derby political reporter

    The meeting of South Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group - which will decide whether to replace Heanor's Memorial Hospital with a new health centre - has started.

    Health meeting
     
  31.  
    Keeper joins Reds 10:25:

    Alfreton Town have signed goalkeeper James Severn on a month's loan from Scunthorpe United.

    The 23-year-old is a former Derby County youth player and has also spent time with Tamworth and Eastwood Town.

     
  32.  
    Have your say 10:16: Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    We've introduced BBC Local Live to bring you news, sport, travel and weather updates in one place. We'd like to know what you think.

     
  33.  
    Shaken baby 'has seizures' 10:05:

    Olivia Shaw has been talking about the severe brain injuries suffered by her son Mason when he was shaken by his father at four months old.

    Olivia Shaw and her son Mason

    Ms Shaw, from Littleover, tells the BBC: "He suffers a lot of seizures, so he needs a lot of eyes and ears around him. I wouldn't be able to cope on my own with all the needs Mason has."

     
  34.  
    News on the hour 09:56: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    In my 10:00 bulletin, a woman whose baby son suffered severe brain injuries when his father shook him says it's unlikely she'll be able to live an independent life.

     
  35.  
    Protest against academy plan 09:40:

    A group of parents in Matlock have been protesting against plans to turn Castle View Primary School into an academy.

    Castle View Primary School

    They say they don't agree with the government that the switch is the best way of bringing the school out of special measures and delivering long-term improvements.

     
  36.  
    Ambulance service revamp rethink 09:28: Chris Doidge BBC Radio Derby political reporter

    East Midlands Ambulance Service is set to scrap its ambulance station closure plan.

    Full details are here, but be warned - there's a lot of jargon to wade through.

     
  37.  
    Woodville lorry breakdown 09:16:

    A broken down lorry is causing disruption on the New Inn roundabout on the B5004 in Woodville, says BBC Travel News.

     
  38.  
    City centre flyover plan 09:05: Derby Telegraph

    Little Eaton, Kingsway and Markeaton islands could be replaced with flyovers in a scheme which would give the city's economy a huge boost, according to experts.

     
  39.  
    News on the hour 08:55: Sally Swinfen Newsreader, BBC Radio Derby

    A woman whose baby son suffered severe brain injuries when he was shaken by his father has been speaking about how the child's life has changed.

    I'll bring you the full story in my 09:00 bulletin.

     
  40.  
    Baby attack father to be sentenced 08:42: BBC Radio Derby

    A man who left his baby son with severe brain injuries when he shook him is due to be sentenced later for causing grievous bodily harm.

    Luke Kerwin, from Littleover, admitted attacking four-month-old Mason in April 2013.

    Yesterday a court was told by the baby's mother he will need constant care for the rest of his life.

     
  41.  
    TOP HEADLINES
     
  42.  
    Hospital decision due 08:31: East Midlands Today

    A final decision on whether to demolish and rebuild Heanor Memorial Hospital will be made today.

    Heanor Memorial Hospital

    The hospital closed last year after asbestos was discovered in several parts of the building.

    The Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group will meet this morning following a 90-day consultation.

     
  43.  
    Murky morning 08:22: Charlie Slater BBC Weather

    It's a misty and murky start with the potential for heavy showers throughout the morning, but things should brighten up this afternoon with highs of 15C (59F). Get your local forecast.

     
  44.  
    Crash blocks M1 08:10:

    A lane is blocked on the M1 northbound between J30 and J31 following an accident involving a van and a car, reports BBC Travel.

     
  45.  
    Good morning 08:00: Gavin Bevis BBC Local Live

    Hi everyone. I'll be bringing you all of today's news, sport, travel and weather updates for Derbyshire and east Staffordshire.

    As ever, I'd love to use some of your pictures or comments, so send them to derby.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet us at @bbcderby.

     

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.