Ex-parish priest brought to justice – 36 years after last known indecent assaults on children

A Met investigation into historical abuse of young boys in South London has resulted in a former priest being jailed for 31 months.

The investigation, carried out by specialist officers, used old reports, statements, diary entries and a psychologist’s reports to put child sex offender James Murphy behind bars.

Murphy, 77, of The Alders Mallow, County Cork, Ireland was sentenced yesterday at Inner London Crown Court.

He pleaded guilty on February 16 at the same court to seven offences of indecent assault relating to four victims aged between five and 11 years old. The offending took place between 1975 and 1988.

The court also heard how Murphy had previous convictions for 11 counts of indecent assault against five boys in 1977.

In 2019, one of the victims came forward to police and officers began to investigate Murphy. Officers established that his offending was much wider, with some offending taking place at the church and in the wider community in Sydenham where Murphy was a trusted figurehead.

Details of the church where he practiced and locations of offences have not been disclosed.

Officers built a rapport with four victims to gather vital evidence, including witness statements, where victims often recounted painful and difficult details.

Officers also contacted relatives of the victims and identified other potential witnesses who also attended the church at the time of the offending.

Met cops travelled to Ireland to interview Murphy on two occasions, with the assistance of Garda officers, during the Covid pandemic.

In interviews, Murphy accepted guilt when presented with the evidence put together by officers. However, he denied one of the accusations relating to one of the victims.

A more recent image of Murphy (Picture: The Met)

PC Helen French, from Central Specialist Crime, who led the investigation, said: “I want to acknowledge the bravery of the victims, whose courage has been unwavering throughout this process.

“Coming forward is not only a tribute to their strength, but serves as a sign to any other victims that they will be listened to and supported.

“Murphy used his position of power as a priest to prey on and take advantage of young boys – and some of their lives have been swathed with despair and anger, ridden with frustration and pain.

“I’d like to thank the dedicated team of officers who helped secure justice – their dedication has been extraordinary. I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of abuse to come forward and get the help they so rightly deserve.”

Advice and details of charities that can offer support to victims of sexual offences can be found on the Met’s website.

Pictured top: James Murphy (The Met)

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