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Dublin: -3°C Tuesday 2 March 2021

'Singing priest' will get maximum sentence of two years for raping a boy with a crucifix

Anthony Walsh (62) committed the offence before the law was changed in 1990

FORMER ‘SINGING PRIEST’ Tony Walsh faces a maximum sentence of up two years in prison for the offence of raping a boy with a crucifix, a court has heard.

Anthony Walsh (62) committed the offence and two other rapes of the same victim before the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act came into effect in 1990, limiting the maximum penalty on each offence to two years.

He is charged with indecent assault, as that was the offence which existed at the time.

He forced the child to have sex twice, once in the parochial house in his parish and on another occasion in a tunnel under the Phoenix Park.

He also used a crucifix to rape the boy.

Pleaded not guilty

The sentencing judge must decide whether his sentencing runs concurrently or consecutively – meaning the overall sentence for these offences could be six years.

Walsh told the jury during the trial last month that he never knew the boy and said he never assaulted him.

Walsh, formerly of North Circular Road, Dublin 7 had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to five counts of indecently assaulting the boy on dates between January 1980 and December 1982.

The boy was aged between 10 and 13 years old at the time of the abuse.

The jury of two women and 10 men returned verdicts of guilty on all counts after approximately one hour of deliberation following a three-day trial.

Previous convictions

Today Garda Tara Corrigan told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that Walsh has 17 previous convictions, from 1995 to 2015, for indecently assaulting young boys and one girl.

Walsh fought two trials and pleaded guilty to the other offences.

He is currently serving a sentence and is not due for release until 2021.

Judge Elma Sheahan adjourned the case to allow Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, defending, submit relevant case law.

Mr O’Loughlin submitted that, as the victim had made a statement to gardaí in April 2011, it could have been dealt with the same time as Walsh’s most recent case in 2015.

He suggested to Judge Sheahan that there was likelihood that the judge would have imposed a concurrent term and not extended Walsh’s term of imprisonment if this happened.


During the trial Walsh told the jury that his offending in relation to children started in 1980 and continued to 1986.

He said a number of the children told their families what was happening and he was called in by the Archbishop in 1986.

He said he was sent for six months treatment in the UK and on his return home he was made a hospital chaplain.

He said he first came to garda attention in 1995 in relation to one incident. In 1997 he pleaded guilty to offences involving five boys in the period 1980 to 1986.

Asked why he pleaded, Walsh replied “because I was guilty”.


He was sent to prison for 10 years initially, reduced to six years on appeal. He was released in 2002.

In 2010 he pleaded guilty in two further cases and not guilty in one case but was convicted by a jury.

In 2013 he pleaded guilty to two more cases. Walsh said that in 2015 he was convicted by a jury in relation to the sexual abuse of a girl.

He said that in 2002, four months after his release – “like a bolt out of the blue” – he was featured on the TV programme Cardinal Sins.

He told the court:

I was stunned because I had served my time, he told the court. There was no re-offending whatsoever and suddenly I was back into the law and the courts.

The victim told the jury that on the first occasions Walsh had sat him on his knee and pulled him backwards with a gyrating motion.


On further occasions Walsh sat him on his knee and then pulled down his trousers and underwear before fondling his genitalia.

He said he remembered music playing sometimes – which Walsh told him was Elvis.

He also recalled being bent over a sofa by Walsh who then put what he believed was his finger into his anus before then putting his penis into him.

He said on another day he felt something being put inside his bum and afterwards saw a crucifix on the ground behind him.

He said on the final occasion Walsh asked him to go for a walk and brought him to the Phoenix Park.

They went for a walk and into a tunnel were there was a mattress on the ground.

Walsh pulled down his underwear and put his penis inside him again.

Comments are closed as the case is before the courts.

Read: ‘Singing priest’ convicted of sexually abusing a boy after claiming he didn’t know him

Read: Priest and serial abuser Tony Walsh sentenced to one year for sexual assault of child in the 1970s

About the author:

Sonya McLean

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