Relief for Wigan man as priest who abused him as a schoolboy is jailed

A Wigan man abused as a schoolboy by a perverted Catholic priest says "a huge weight has been lifted" as the 96-year-old begins his prison sentence.

Father John Kevin Murphy was jailed for five years at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday for sexually abusing six boys - including one from Ashton - more than 30 years ago.

The six victims, who were aged between eight and 16 at the times of the offences, were molested while he took them on swimming lessons and also while visiting the homes of their devout Catholic parents.

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All but one came forward to police after seeing media reports about him being imprisoned in 2017 for molesting other boys.

Father John Murphy
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“I dodged games because he used to go in the changing rooms and he would always sit in the same place so he could see the boys in the shower.

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“He insisted on giving me swimming lessons and that’s when the abuse happened. It lasted around three years.

“People from school have since said I was a loner but you didn’t want to tell anyone because I thought ‘why me?’ I could never feel clean.

“I just tried to keep out of the way. Most lads that age went to parties and had girlfriends but I kept myself to myself. I never imagined he could be abusing so many more.

“It never goes away. Even now I get upset if I hear of a Catholic priest being prosecuted because it brings it all back. My psychiatrist said it’s embedded in my mind.

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“For years I thought he was dead and then I saw it on the TV one evening and I nearly choked. I recognised him straight away and that’s when I contacted a lawyer.

“I knew he wouldn’t get a lengthy sentence because of his age but I’m just glad I’ve done what I’ve done – it feels like a huge weight has been lifted. If I hadn’t it would have been on my mind until the day I died."

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer at Slater and Gordon who is representing a number of Murphy’s victims in civil claims against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, added: “Murphy was in a position of trust which he exploited in the most sickening way, but his crimes have finally caught up with him.

“The regularity with which he offended, however, and the facts my clients describe – his habit of visiting the boys’ changing rooms for example – do raise serious concerns about the archdiocese and its inability to safeguard against child abuse.

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“The church must acknowledge its failings, apologise and show that meaningful progress has been made to prevent such abuse happening in the future. That is all my clients want."