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Paedo priest Ambrose should be back in jail.. where he belongs; CLERIC KNEW VICTIMS COULDN'T SPEAK OUT.

Byline: FIONA CASSIDY

EVIL paedophile Brother Ambrose preyed on mentally handicapped boys knowing they could never speak out against him, the Sunday Mirror can reveal.

Now fellow victim John Barrett has vowed to speak up for those handicapped boys who suffered in silence under the cleric's terrifying reign.

Brother Ambrose, branded by his victims as 'the most evil man in Ireland' served just THREE years of a record 36-year sentence which began in 1999 for a litany of child sex crimes during the 1950s and 60s.

Many of his victims were mentally handicapped.

In March 2001, he was further jailed for five years after 77 additional charges of sexual assault were made against him.

Last year's decision to grant the monk, real name James Kelly, early release, provoked outrage from the victims, who suffered under his reign of terror at Lota's children's home in Glanmire, Co Cork.

His release from Curragh Prison - dubbed 'The Vatican' for the high numbers of paedophile priests behind its walls - sent shockwaves across Ireland.

The Brothers of Charity School at Lota housed orphans, the mentally handicapped and children with learning difficulties.

Victim John Barrett spent eight years there and was a prime target for the brutal priest.

Since the cleric's early release, Barrett has been leading a campaign to have him put back inside and spend the rest of his days in jail.

Having faced his childhood nightmare in the courtroom, he is now determined to speak up for the silent victims of Brother Ambrose.

He said: "The sentence this animal served is an insult to his victims and their families and we will not rest until we see him back behind bars.

"But there are many more crimes, particularly against mentally handicapped children in Lota, that he should be tried for.

"I meet with relatives of these victims on a daily basis, and it is time that their story is told."

Now, 50 years on, and the legacy of the priest's heinous attacks on defenceless and disabled children lives on.

One of Brother Ambrose's alleged victims, a 54-year-old cerebral palsy sufferer, was sent to Lota when he was just 10.

His sister, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said her brother will never recover from the horrors he suffered at the hands of the twisted priest.

"We never knew anything of what my brother went through until the Brother Ambrose's trial made the headlines a few years back,' she said.

"I was beside him watching the TV when a picture of the priest appeared, and my brother simply went to pieces.

"He said he wanted to kill him and burn Lota children's home to the ground, then told me why.

"I was in total shock, and felt sick to my stomach."

She said it was then the reason for her brother's aggressive behaviour over the years became clear.

"Before he went to Lota, My brother was a happy, gentle boy. Then he began to change," she said.

"He would come home during the summer holidays, and his behaviour began to get more and more aggressive, when he would lash out for no reason.

"When the bus arrived at the start of school term to bring him back to Lota, he used to run into the fields and hide.

"We would have to physically force him and his bags onto the bus."

She added: "We had no idea what sort of hell we were sending him into - and why should we? He was supposed to be getting the best of care in a place run by clergy, who then had tremendous standing in the community."

My brother left Lota at 15, still unable to read and write, and according to his sister, unrecognisable from the happy-go-lucky big brother she adored.

"His aggressive bouts became more and more frequent, but there was no counselling in those days, and so he was moved from institution to institution," she said.

"Both my parents died before the truth came out, which is what hurts the most.

"I think my brother thought he was being punished for something by being sent to Lota.

"My mother, who was very close to him, never got the opportunity to tell him none of it was his fault."

The victim, who now stays in a secure unit in Kilkenny, submitted a statement detailing his sexual abuse horror at Lota, but his sister fears, that due to his mental condition, it will never stand up in court.

"It's an appalling situation," she said.

You wonder is it worth it to see him go through this agony all over again, maybe for nothing.

"It is difficult enough for courageous men like John Barrett to root back into the depths of their soul before a court to put this monster behind bars.

"But my brother does still - and always will - live in fear of Brother Ambrose, and the biggest kick in the teeth is that he is back in society."

The sister, who is presently seeking legal advice on bringing charges against the freed priest, is sceptical on whether justice will prevail.

She added: "The judicial system made a mockery of the law, and of all victims of sexual abuse when they let him go, three years into a 36 year sentence.

"For my brother's sake we will fight to see him put back in jail where he belongs, but it would seem that this beast has the law on his side."

Kelly, 78, released on the grounds, of good behaviour and ill health, is now believed to be staying in a safe house somewhere in the UK.

But for John Barrett, such justice will never be safe enough.

"The day I heard he would be going to prison for 36 years, I slept soundly for the first night in decades," John Said.

"Now that security has been cruelly taken away from me, and countless others, means the nightmares and sleepless nights have returned.

"These sort of sentences give a green light to other paedophiles that the law is on their side.

"And I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that monster would strike again if given the chance."

CAPTION(S):

CAMPAIGNER: Sex abuse victim John Barrett; SHAME: The Curragh Prison was nicknamed the Vatican because of the number of clerics serving time there
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 4, 2003
Words:1049
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