Glasgow & West Scotland

Priest guilty of child sex abuse

Father Paul Moore has been convicted of abusing children
Image caption Father Paul Moore has been convicted of abusing children

An 82-year-old Catholic priest has been convicted of sexually abusing three children and a student priest in crimes spanning more than 20 years.

Father Paul Moore committed the crimes in various locations in Ayrshire between 1977 and 1996.

The court heard how he abused one boy at a school, another at a leisure centre and a third on the beach at Irvine in the 1970s.

He was also found guilty of indecently assaulting a student priest in 1995.

Image caption Moore was sent to Fort Augustus after allegedly admitting child abuse to the bishop

He will be sentenced next month.

The judge, Lady Rae, told Moore that he had abused his position as a priest in the "most horrible manner".

She said it was an "appalling abuse" and the damage done to young people was immeasurable.

His youngest victim was just five when the priest abused him in his primary school.

The court heard that the priest groomed some of his victims by taking them swimming or out for meals before sexually abusing them.

The BBC reported five years ago that Moore confessed his abuse to his bishop in 1996.

Ninety-one-year-old Bishop Maurice Taylor gave evidence in the trial and told the court Moore admitted he had "an attraction to young boys" and had "a desire to abuse minors."

The bishop sent him to a treatment centre in Toronto and to Fort Augustus Abbey in the Highlands.

Police investigation

Moore was removed from the pastoral ministry after his admission but continued to live in a house purchased by the church.

The priest, who was identified in court as Francis Moore but was known as Father Paul, was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

He showed no emotion as he was remanded in custody and led away to the cells.

The allegations were first raised in 1996 but it was not until 2015 that a major police investigation was launched.

His youngest victim, who is now 46, said the abuse took place for the first time when he was sent to Moore by his teachers for drawing a picture of Jesus Christ with nipples.

The man said he was crying and Moore embraced him and then sexually abused him.

Another man said that when he was aged between 11 and 13 he and a group of others went to the Magnum Leisure Centre in Irvine with Moore to swim.

Image caption One victim was abused on Irvine beach

In the changing room the man, who is now 52, said that as he stood towelling himself dry in the communal changing room Moore said: "We're all boys here," and tried to grab the towel.

Another witness, aged 49, said he was abused by Moore , who was his parish priest, when he was 11.

He told the court the priest abused him on two occasions after they went swimming together.

The victim , who was an altar boy, added: "We would go to a secluded area up the top of the beach to change. He would take an interest in drying me."

A third victim, who has been a priest for more than 20 years, told the jury that on two separate occasions he woke to find Moore beside his bed, touching his genitals.

Bishop William Nolan, the Bishop of Galloway, said he was very sad a priest had been found guilty of the abuse of those in his care.

"I feel very much for those who have suffered," Bishop Nolan said.

"I am conscious, too, that their pain has been exacerbated by this long wait for justice and that we are only now able to offer a full and proper apology.

"Notwithstanding, I hope that the trial, conviction and sentencing of the individual responsible will afford them some comfort."

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