NSW priest loses appeal against jail sentence

A former Maitland-Newcastle diocesan priest convicted of sexually assaulting an altar boy in his NSW parish has lost an appeal against his conviction.

CLICK HEREAAP reports that James Fletcher, 64, of Branxton, was found guilty of nine charges over the sexual abuse of the teenager between 1989 and 1991.

Fletcher was convicted in December last year of the offences, which occurred in his NSW Hunter Valley parish.

In April he was sentenced to a maximum of 10 years jail with a non-parole period of seven and a half years.

On Friday his appeal against his conviction was dismissed in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal in a majority decision by a three-judge panel.

Fletcher appealed on two grounds, including that the trial judge erred in admitting the evidence of a particular witness and in his directions to the jury about it.

The evidence was from another altar boy, who can be referred to only as GG, who said Fletcher performed oral sex on him in 1986 and 1987.

Fletcher's lawyers said two aspects of the evidence contrasted the nature and date of the allegations made by the complainant and those made by GG.

Justice Carolyn Simpson said the trial judge was correct in allowing GG's evidence.

Fletcher will be eligible for parole in June 2012.

Priest loses appeal (National Nine News/Australian Associated Press 25/9/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

Diocese marks Child Protection Week with Child Protection unit opening (CathNews 7/9/05)
Priest jailed for sexually abusing altar boy (CathNews 12/4/05)
NSW bishop apologises over abuse (CathNews 7/12/04)
NSW bishop goes public on priest charged with abuse (CathNews 15/5/03)
Employment Commission denies ombudsman investigating Church (CathNews 16/5/03)

Abuse allegation against former principal upheld (ABC West Coast SA 6/9/05)
Complaint over priest 'will not go to police' (The Advertiser 7/9/05)

26 Sep 2005