Court ruling angers pedophile priest's victim

Catholic News/November 17, 2003

A victim of convicted pedophile, Neville Joseph Creen has lashed out at the Court of Appeal's decision not to increase the former north Queensland priest's jail time.

The Court of Appeal found it was unable to increase Creen's sentence because it was bound by a finding of fact by the sentencing judge.

Last September in the Brisbane District Court Judge Ian Wylie sentenced Creen to 3 1/2 years' jail after he admitted 34 counts of indecent dealing with girls, between 1973 and 1981. However, Judge Wylie suspended the sentence after 14 months for four years to reflect mitigating factors in the case.

Creen, 63, now of Sydney, was a parish priest in Mount Isa when he molested the girls, aged six to 12, in a variety of places including their homes during visits, on church youth camps, during confession and once at a wedding.

Victim Kathryn, 42, said she was "blown away" by the court's decision.

"They've taken into account he was naive sexually, but this man was in no way naive. He enjoyed every minute of it."

Attorney General Rod Welford had gone to the Court of Appeal to seek an extra seven months behind bars for Creen, who had molested 20 girls.

The court found Mr Welford had not shown the sentence was manifestly inadequate, in particular because the sentencing judge had found Creen was genuinely rehabilitated.

But Kathryn, who said she was molested by Creen on three occasions when she was 11, said Creen had fooled the justice system.

Kathryn said she was offended by one of the judge's comments about how long it took for victims to come forward.

"In my mind he has no comprehension of how the effects of child abuse work on a child."

Justice Geoff Davies said the sentencing judge was entitled to take into consideration the factors of rehabilitation, Creen's new adult relationship, his good work in the community and that Creen had not reoffended for more than 20 years.

Kathryn has appointed lawyers to pursue civil action against the Diocese of Townsville and said she hoped more of Creen's victims would come forward.

Meanwhile a former priest must return to New Zealand from the United Kingdom to face 19 charges of sex abuse after losing his extradition challenge at the High Court.

Alan Woodcock, 55, had claimed that it would be unjust or oppressive to send him back because many of the charges involving 11 different boys related to events more than 20 years ago. He claimed it would be impossible for him to have a fair trial.

Lord Justice Simon Brown said in a ruling in London that there may never have been a case where someone has been extradited after a lapse of 15 years from the alleged commission of offences.

"In my judgment, however, there can be no cut-off point beyond which extradition must inevitably be regarded as unjust or oppressive."

The judge said he had also taken into account that the charges related to "grave offences" - mostly against minors involving a serious abuse of Woodcock's position of trust as a priest and teacher.

Woodcock became a priest in 1972 and from 1982 worked as a teacher at St Patrick's College, Silverstream, Wellington. He moved to London in 1990, trained as an adult therapist before taking a job providing counselling and crisis intervention for passengers and staff at Heathrow Airport.

Woodcock, who lived at Lymer Avenue, Crystal Palace, south London, had not practised as a priest since 1995 and gave up the priesthood last year.

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