Northern Ireland

Ex-monk Vincent Lewis sentenced over further sex abuse offences

Vincent Lewis
Image caption Vincent Lewis is currently serving a sentence for similar offences

A former monk who is serving a jail sentence for historic child sex offences has been sentenced after admitting further sex abuse charges.

Vincent Lewis, 90, of Annagher Road, Coalisland, pleaded guilty to five counts of gross indecency with a child and a count of indecent assault.

Lewis was jailed for three years on Friday.

He is also to remain on the sex offender register indefinitely.

In 2018, he was jailed for eight-and-a-half years for sexually abusing three boys.

The sentence is awaiting a ruling from the Court of Appeal over the possibility that it was unduly lenient.

The latest charges relate to offences that occurred on various dates between 1983 and 1986.

Formerly known as Brother Ambrose, of our Lady of Bethlehem Monastery, Portglenone, the guilty pleas brought the number of his victims to four, although the latest matter occurred after he left the order.

He accepted the charges last September at Dungannon Crown Court where the judge ruled pre-sentence reports would be required as well as a victim impact statement.

Image copyright Kenneth Allen, Geograph
Image caption Vincent Lewis was a former monk at Our Lady of Bethlehem Abbey in Portglenone

On Friday, the court heard that the victim, who was present for the hearing, spoke with police in February 2018, and reported a number of historical incidents while aged between 10 and 12.

He began working for Lewis, who operated a printing business, after school around 1983. In the second week of this, the victim was sexually assaulted.

The abuse continued twice a week for around a month.

After a time, Lewis closed the printing company and the victim had no contact for about a year.

However, following an encounter in Coalisland, another period of abuse continued weekly for about six months.

Shame

The court heard that, on arrest, Lewis could give no explanation for his conduct and replied: "I'm not in a position to answer your questions at this time."

Defence counsel said his client's plea was immediate and that he apologised to the victim "and continues to pray for him".

The court heard the victim previously asked a message be relayed by the defence to "thank Mr Lewis for doing the right thing".

The judge told the court that his primary sentencing remarks were directed to the victim.

"These courts are clear, victims of this type of abuse are central," he said.

"But for your bravery in coming forward, these offences would remain unpunished. It is right they are punished.

"It is completely and utterly accepted that criminal sexual abuse has caused untold harm and damage."

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