John Patrick Casey outside Lismore Court
John Patrick Casey outside Lismore Court Leah White

JAILED: Catholic priest to spend years behind bars

LONG serving Lismore Diocese priest Father John Casey has been jailed for four years and 10 months for two counts of child sexual abuse.

The abuse occurred while Father Casey was the parish priest at Mallanganee, west of Casino, in the mid-1980s.

Judge Sarah Huggett handed down her sentence Tuesday afternoon in the Sydney Downing Centre District Court.

Last month after protracted three year court proceedings, involving two lengthy trials, Casey was found guilty of two historical charges - on one count of category three sexual assault of a person under 16, and one count of category four sexual assault - indecent act on a person under 16.

Casey was handed a total of four years and 10 months imprisonment, to expire on March 29 2023.

As well as serving as a parish priest on the Northern Rivers in the 1980s, Casey was a prominent  figure in the Coffs Harbour region, having served as the parish priest for Sawtell.

It's understood since his arrest, many parents of children who Casey baptised have contacted the Diocese requesting his name be removed from their children's baptism certificates.

When he was arrested over the offences in Kempsey in 2015 he was also serving as the Coffs Clarence police chaplain.

Casey's non-parole period is yet to be confirmed.

Tuesday, 12.10pm:

A LISMORE Diocese Catholic priest found guilty of historic child sexual abuse in the mid-1980s will be sentenced in the District Court today in Sydney.

Last month a jury found Father John Patrick Casey, 70, guilty of one count of sexual assault of a person under 16 (category three), and one count of sexual assault (category four), indecent act on a person under 16.

The abuse was committed at Mallanganee in the 1980s while Casey was the local parish priest there.

Casey has been refused bail since the September 4 verdict and Judge Sarah Huggett is expected to deliver her sentence at 2pm today in Sydney Downing Centre District Court.

Casey's sentencing follows lengthy court proceedings against the long-time Lismore Diocese priest, who once served in a senior role as Regional Vicar for the diocese's southern region.

He had also worked as a priest in Casino, Sawtell near Coffs Harbour, Kempsey, and Townsville and served as a part-time police chaplain.

He was stood down as parish priest of Sawtell after his arrest in 2015 over the allegations.

In 2016 Casey originally faced a four-week trial in Lismore District Court on 27 various counts of child sexual assault, in which a jury found him not guilty of 16 counts but could not reach a verdict on 11 counts, forcing a retrial.

Casey was represented in the 2016 trial by high-profile barrister Charles Waterstreet, who argued that the detailed claims of his various alleged victims were made-up.

The second trial this year involved six counts of alleged abuse of two boys in the 1980s at the Mallanganee presbytery.

During the trial Casey denied that one of the boys had performed oral sex on him, that he masturbated in the boy's presence, or inserted a finger into the anus of one of the boys in the shower.

Casey was found not guilty of homosexual intercourse with a male under 18, not guilty of sexual assault (category four) incite indecent act person under 16, and not guilty of homosexual intercourse with male under 18 years.