Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Ex-Isle of Wight choirboy compensated for priest abuse

A former choirboy who suffered years of abuse in the 1970s by a priest has been awarded compensation of £200,000.

The payout comes two years after Father Maxwell Halahan who worked at St Faith's Church in Cowes, Isle Of Wight was jailed for three years.

Halahan, a Church of England priest, was found guilty at Portsmouth Crown Court in September 2011, of four counts of indecent assault.

His victim said the abuse, which went on for five years, "ruined his life".

The payout has been agreed by the Bishop of Portsmouth and will cover the cost of psychological treatment and loss of earnings.

'Vile man'

"Although nothing can make up for the horror of what that vile man put me through and the effects it has had on my life, the settlement does finally give me some closure," said the victim, who is now aged in his 40s.

He added he hoped to "rebuild" his life.

The father-of-two joined the choir when he was eight-years-old and within a month Halahan began regularly sexually abusing him in the nearby vicarage, bribing him with extra pocket money to keep quiet.

This continued for five years until he was 13 and Halahan left the church.

"As I went through my teenage years, the seriousness of what I had been subjected to hit me more and more and I began to go off the rails, particularly as I had no support from my family," the man said.

He added he began skipping classes at school, was regularly in trouble with police and was sentenced to three months in a detention centre when he was 15.

'Rock bottom'

When he left he said he could not hold down a job and was forced to sleep rough.

"I had hit rock bottom," he said.

The victim said the abuse had left him regularly depressed and unable to concentrate.

He decided to contact police in 2010 "because I realised he could still be out there putting other children through the same horrendous ordeal", he said.

His solicitor Stephanie Pelling, said she hope the case would encourage other victims of abuse to seek help.

Halahan was 81 when he was jailed for the abuse.

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