Catholic priest jailed for child sex offences

Brisbane Times, Australia/November 5, 2008

The Catholic priest who conducted the funeral of the three Farquharson boys, who died when their father drove them into a dam on Father's Day 2005, has been jailed for four years on child-sex and child-porn charges.

Edmund John Haines, 62, was sentenced yesterday in the Geelong County Court on six counts of indecent acts with a child under 16; one count of an indecent act with a child aged 16 or 17; one of procurement of a minor for child pornography; and with producing and possessing child pornography.

One offence involved Haines capturing on his mobile phone images of an indecent act with a boy. He gave his mobile to another boy, who saw the images and reported Haines to police. Haines was found in possession of 30 child pornography images and resigned after his arrest.

Haines was parish priest in the rural town of Meredith for 12 years and was also a chaplain at St Joseph's College, Geelong.

The charges related to offences committed at Geelong, Bannockburn and Winchelsea between 2006 and 2008.

Judge Geoff Chettle said his behaviour was "a gross breach of trust" and sentenced him to four years and three months jail with a minimum of two years and six months.

According to the Geelong Advertiser, Judge Chettle said Haines had been treated like "royalty" in his community, but had abused that respect.

The newspaper quoted his barrister, Brian Bourke, as saying that Haines had "no sexual experience at all" because of the "prohibition" imposed on priests by the Catholic church and asking Judge Chettle to take into account "the stress and strain these people (priests) are under for years and years".

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, who accepted Haines's resignation after he was charged earlier this year, said at the time that he was deeply troubled over the laying of the charges against the priest.

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