14/06/2007

Fermanagh priest jailed for five years

A Fermanagh priest who gave thousands of pounds to a County Antrim man to finance the grooming of a young girl, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment.

Jeremiah McGrath, 63, originally from Rosslea, gave more than £20,000 to convicted paedophile William Adams to shower a 12-year-old Liverpool girl with gifts.

Adams, 38, originally from Belfast, raped the girl repeatedly over a six-month period in 2005.

It is understood the priest met Adams in a homeless hostel in Dublin in 1988. They subsequently developed a sexual relationship.

However, McGrath denied all charges and insisted he had no knowledge that Adams was abusing the girl and claimed the cash was linked to his heavy gambling habit.

Adams, who pleaded guilty to rape and abuse of the girl, was sentenced to life and ordered to serve a minimum of seven and a half years before he is considered for release.

In a statement welcoming the sentences, the girl's family said they were deeply traumatised by "the lengthy investigation into these heinous crimes which were carried out by these two evil individuals".

They added: "Father Jeremiah McGrath had full knowledge that Billy Adams was a convicted child rapist and was aware of the serious danger posed by Billy Adams to all children."

(JM/KMcA)

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