Priest ‘Gave Thousands To Paedophile To Help Groom Girl’

An Irish priest lavished thousands of pounds on a predatory paedophile to allow him to groom an 11-year-old girl for sex, Liverpool Crown Court was told yesterday. Father Jeremiah McGrath, 62, of Roselea, Co Fermanagh, was a Roman Catholic priest, but a lucrative shares portfolio gave him independent means.

{mosimage}He was also a successful gambler and had befriended William Adams, 38, a convicted paedophile, while he was in his teens.

The priest visited him in prison in Ireland while he served a 12-year sentence for raping an eight-year-old girl.

On his release Adams went to Liverpool, where he used the priest’s money to target a child and buy her gifts. They included a three-week holiday in Blackpool, during which he posed as her father, shared a bedroom with her and repeatedly raped her.

Andrew Menary, QC, for the prosecution, suggested to the jury that the relationship between the priest and paedophile was a physical one. It is alleged that Father McGrath not only knew the nature of Adam’s abusive relationship with the child but abused her himself on one occasion. Mr Menary told the jury:

“Adams worked his way into this girl’s affections. He gave her time, attention and gifts. He gave her money and holidays, all things this little girl had never experienced. He bought her mobile telephones, paid for hairstyling, let her bunk off school and generally encouraged her to believe he was her friend and that he loved her.

“It appears at this stage that Adams was unemployed, and documents found in his flat showed he had applied for state benefits. You may be wondering where the money came from to finance these gifts and trips. We allege that most, if not all the money, came from Jeremiah McGrath. Although he was a priest, he is a man with substantial means. It also seems Father McGrath is a heavy but successful gambler.”

Mr Menary said that Father McGrath regularly sent significant sums of money to Adams, enabling him to provide these treats for the girl and her family when he knew that he must have been sexually abusing the child. Mr Menary said: “It seems Jeremiah McGrath would indulge all of William Adams’s desires, including funding his interest in young girls in order to keep Adams happy.”

Father McGrath denies three counts of facilitating the commission of a child sex offence of one of sexual assault. Adams, latterly of Bootle, Merseyside, has admitted raping the child.

The jury was told that a total of £23,500 was paid by Father McGrath into accounts to which Adams had access. Mr Menary told the court that Adams continued to rape the girl after they returned from Blackpool to Merseyside. He would regularly visit Father McGrath in Co Fermanagh.

When Father McGrath visited Adams, they were said to have “spent money like it was going out of fashion” at a rate of £1,000 a day. The bulk of the gifts and attention went on the girl, Mr Menary said.

The charge of sexual assault relates to an occasion in November 2005, when Father McGrath is alleged to have touched the child while in a car. Mr Menary also claimed that Father McGrath supported Adams in his use of false names and in playing down his conviction when the child’s family grew suspicious.

Father McGrath showed no obvious reaction when Mr Menary claimed that there was evidence of a sexual relationship between the two men. In police interviews, McGrath denied any impropriety in relation to the girl but accepted that there were elements of his relationship with Adams of which the Catholic Church would not approve.

The jury later watched a lengthy recorded interview in which the girl described how Adams regularly abused her.

The trial continues.