Former priest jailed for sexually abusing boys in North Ayrshire

A former priest who sexually abused three boys and a student priest has been jailed for nine years.

Francis Paul Moore, 82, sexually assaulted one young boy at a primary school in North Ayrshire and the other two, both altar boys, at a leisure centre and beach at Irvine between 1977 and 1981, the Crown Office said.

At the time the boys were aged between five and 13.

The student priest was assaulted between 1995 and 1996 at a property in Prestwick.

Moore was sentenced to nine years in prison and placed on the sex offenders’ register indefinitely at the High Court in Glasgow (pictured) on Wednesday.

One of his victims, Paul Smyth, waived his right to anonymity to speak to the BBC.

He said he now had closure and urged any other victims of sexual abuse to come forward.

Mr Smyth told the BBC: “I still remember very clearly the first incident, as if it was yesterday.

“Everybody thought he was a good guy, as if people thought he was a saint.

“It’s cost me years of anxiety, years of anger which shouldn’t have been there.”

In her sentencing statement Judge Lady Rae said Moore had been convicted of “despicable crimes”.

The judge said: “In carrying out these crimes you took advantage of your position as a minister of religion, a profession from which the public, including children, ought to be able to expect integrity, trust, support and pastoral care. What you did was a gross breach of trust.

“In my view you have neither shown nor expressed any remorse for these crimes. It is clear from the contents of the criminal justice social work report that you fail to acknowledge any responsibility for your actions.”

The Crown Office praised the bravery Moore’s victims in coming forward.

Kenny Donnelly, procurator fiscal for sexual offences, said: “The actions of Francis Moore have had a devastating impact on the lives of his vulnerable victims.

“He was trusted and respected by the community he served while all along he was abusing his position of trust.

“Thanks to the bravery of his victims in coming forward to report what happened to them, he is now paying the consequences for his actions.

“I encourage anyone who has been a victim of any such offences, even if they occurred decades ago, to report this to the police in the confidence that they will be treated with the utmost professionalism and sensitivity by the police and our expert prosecutors.”

NSPCC Scotland described it as a “horrific case”.

A spokesman said: “Moore held a position of great trust in the community but abused it appallingly to carry out a series of sickening attacks on children.

“Abuse ruins childhoods and Moore’s appalling actions blighted his victims’ lives into adulthood. It is entirely right that he has finally faced the consequences of his action and is now behind bars.

“This horrific case shows once again that it is never too late for survivors of abuse to come forward and seek justice for what they endured as well as to receive the help and support they need.”

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