Coalisland’s ‘evil’ monk sentenced to eight and half years imprisonment.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

AN 89-year-old paedophile from Coalisland, described by Judge Desmond Marrian as an 'evil monk', has been sentenced to eight and half years in jail.

Vincent Lewis, Annagher Road, Coalisland, formerly Brother Ambrose of Our Lady of Bethlehem Monastery in Portglenone appeared before Antrim Crown Court where details of his 57 sexual offences were disclosed.

Lewis had previously entered a plea of guilty to the sex offences involving three boys on separate dates over a 10-year period from 1973 - 1983.

The Antrim Crown Court judge branded the former monk's catalogue of abuse as "horrific...terrible...and despicable", telling him that the "cruelty meted out was almost unbelievable".

The Court heard how the former monk, turned printer, sexually abused one youngster while serving at a Co Antrim priory he joined at 16.

He then sexually abused two brothers after leaving holy orders when he was 50.

Judge Marrinan said that Lewis had treated his first victim "as a play thing" to satisfy "his perverted sexual desires and showed him no mercy or consideration."

This behaviour had disastrous consequences for his victims causing them to "lose the precious right to innocence and in the case of two of them, has caused them lifelong damage and pain which cannot be repaired."

"It is just another grim reminder of the incalculable damage that a paedophile like the defendant can do," said the judge.

Last week the Court heard that as Bro Ambrose, Lewis's victim was just 10 years-old when he first became acquainted with the defendant.

The QC David McDowell said that the abuse which began in 1973 started with indecent assaults which progressed to more serious assaults before the abuse took place within the abbey, including a guest house for those on retreat, and also around the priory's extensive grounds.

He also said that Lewis even lied to the youngster, telling him his parents knew because he was, "bad, but I am here to look after you" before abusing him, and that what he was doing "was right".

The court also heard that on occasions he plied his victims with alcohol and when handing over his wage packet for the odd jobs he did around the abbey, Lewis would say "There's a wee bit extra in there".

The abuse ended when the victim was 15 but the Court heard that Lewis' second victim was a young teenager whom he once abused on the shores of Lough Neagh after a swim, while the third victim was the seconds younger brother who was, the court heard, indecently assaulted and abused over a four year period from the age of nine.

Speaking on his client's behalf QC James Gallagher said his Lewis had been married for 40 years and that all of his offending behaviour had finished "35 years ago with no further occur rences".

As well as serving eight and half years in prison, Lewis was also put on the Sex Offender's Register for life after agreeing to serve a further two years on probation.


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