Beds, Herts & Bucks

Francis McDermott: Priest jailed for child abuse

Father Francis McDermott Image copyright South Beds News Agency
Image caption Father Francis McDermott denied committing sexual offences against six children in the 1970s

A "disgusting" Roman Catholic priest has been jailed for abusing six children during the 1970s.

Francis McDermott, 75, abused his victims in London, Norwich and High Wycombe, Aylesbury Crown Court heard.

One of his victims kept a diary marking each sexual encounter while another said McDermott regularly stayed at his family's home and sexually abused him.

McDermott, of Bideford, Devon, was convicted of 18 sex offences and jailed for nine years and 11 months.

He was a priest in different parishes between 1971 and 1979.

Before his retirement, McDermott, of Atlantic Way, was at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Bedgrove, Aylesbury.

Judge Catherine Tulk told him: "You abused the trust of those six children and their parents in a continued and callous fashion."

'Lying monster'

At his sentencing several victims told the court of the effect of abuse on their lives.

One woman described him as a "disgusting, despicable, lying monster", while another said " I would have been a different person if you had not abused me".

A man told the BBC he had been abused between the ages of 10 and 17 after McDermott befriended his family.

He said: "Looking back at it now I realise the impact was to take away my self-worth.

"But at the time it was something I was embarrassed about and it was a secret which had to be kept to keep the affection of Father McDermott because I thought the world of him at the time."

Bishop of Northampton Peter Doyle said: "My heart goes out to all those affected by these terrible crimes. How courageous the women and men have been after carrying the wounds of abuse for more than 40 years.

"My hope is that the sentence today will aid in the long journey of healing for the victims and survivors of this abuse."

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