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Sydney priest continues to stand by triple murderer

The parish priest of Sef Gonzales, convicted last week of murdering three members of his family, has said he will support an appeal against the conviction.

On Thursday, Gonzales was found guilty of murdering all three in 2001, despite his claims of innocence.

"I have believed him all along, I have accepted what he has said, he has pleaded not guilty and I think there is a lot of light and shade in what is there . . . it depends on how people look at it," Fr Paul Cahill told the Sydney Morning Herald.

Fr Cahill has known Gonzales since he was a 10-year-old altar boy at his then parish, Our Lady of Dolours Chatswood. The priest has visited Gonzales in prison every week since he was charged in June 2002, allowing him to go to confession.

Gonzales has often shown signs of a strong religious focus. At school he was awarded for significant contribution to religious life. After he "discovered" his family murdered in their home, he asked police and ambulance officers for rosary beads. He kept a crucifix in his car.

"Of course now, I will continue to be a support person, as a Catholic priest it is my responsibility to continue to support him and be there for him if he needs me," he said. "My area is a spiritual one and he needs assistance - as we all need assistance."

On the trial's second day, an issue arose that he had asked parishioners to pray for Gonzales. He told the court he had only ever prayed that Sef receive a fair trial.

He began supporting Gonzales from the day of the funeral in July 2001, he says, after Gonzales's relatives and friends began distancing themselves.

Priest keeps faith in Sef despite conviction (Sydney Morning Herald 22/5/04)

Triple murder took Sef's family ... and a secret (Catholic Weekly 29/7/01)
Sef Gonzales found guilty of family murder (ABC Radio PM 20/5/04)
Sef caught in a web of guilt (The Australian 21/5/04)
Sef Gonzales found guilty of kin's murder in Australia (ABS-CBN 24/5/04)
Sef Gonzales: My unbearable loss (Daily Telegraph 20/5/04)

24 May 2004