A PAEDOPHILE priest from Abbots Bromley has been sentenced to 22 years in prison after being convicted of 21 sexual offences against eight boys.
Alexander Bede Walsh, aged 58, of Church Lane, was convicted by a jury last month, following a trial at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court.
He was found guilty of 19 counts of indecent assault and two counts of a serious sexual offence.
Walsh (pictured right), who was remanded in custody, was sentenced at Stoke-on-Trent Crown Court on Friday.
The offences were all committed on boys aged between eight and 16 in the 1970s, 80s and 90s when he served as a Catholic priest.
Following last month’s conviction a further four people have contacted Staffordshire Police regarding Walsh. The force said the information they have disclosed is currently being reviewed.
DC Tim Bailey, investigating officer, said: “I welcome today’s lengthy jail term which reflects the horrific nature of Walsh’s offences.
“Walsh abused his position by using his trusted status in the community to prey on vulnerable young people.
“He befriended his victims, and their families, and went on to commit horrendous crimes.
“I would like to thank all eight victims for their bravery while giving evidence at last month’s trial, and I hope Walsh’s lengthy sentence will help those people to now move on with their lives.” One of Walsh’s victims was abused in nearby Cheadle, six were in Coventry and one was in Warwickshire.
During his 10-day trial, the jury heard Walsh had previous convictions for possessing indecent images of children which resulted in him resigning in 2004.
He maintained his innocence throughout but the jury heard from all of his victims, who are now adults, who told of the abuse they had suffered at his hands.
The investigation began back in 2009 when two victims independently contacted Cheadle Police to report the abuse and inquiries led to a further two victims coming forward.
A file was then presented to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in December 2010 and sufficient evidence led Walsh to be charged with 19 offences against boys.
The publicity around the case led to four more victims contacting police, leading him to face trial for 27 offences.
The Most Rev Bernard Longley, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham, said he had been ‘shocked and appalled’ by the abuse.
In a statement issued after Walsh’s conviction, Archbishop Longley said: “I realise that this has been an indescribably difficult and distressing time for you, your families and friends.
“I recognise that these crimes can cause deep and lasting damage.”