THE victim of former Hunter Catholic priest James Fletcher’s pedophilia says he can now begin the healing process after the disgraced clergyman lost his appeal against a 10-year jail sentence yesterday.
The Court of Criminal Appeal dismissed an application against Fletcher’s conviction by a majority verdict of two judges to one.
A jury found Fletcher guilty last December of nine charges over his “preying” on a teenage boy between 1989 and 1991.
His actions were later described by his sentencing judge as a “gross and inexcusable misuse of trust”.
Fletcher’s victim, who cannot be identified, said yesterday: “Today is definitely another milestone for us. I feel I can really start the healing process now.
“I was shaking like a leaf this morning and had a terrible nights’ sleep but I am very happy I now feel vindicated.”
The victim, now aged in his late 20s, kept the secret to himself for years after Fletcher threatened to hurt his family if the abuse was mentioned.
The victim said it had been a long three years between reporting the matter to police and yesterday’s dismissal.
“We are just exhausted,” he said.
His mother said she believed upholding the appeal would have been prejudicial to her son.
“Today I feel a sense of relief, but I believe they will probably appeal to the High Court so it’s not over yet.”.
“It makes it very hard for victims to come forward . . . when does the pain stop?”
Fletcher had argued the trial judge had erred in law because he had admitted evidence from another alleged victim that was prejudicial to the case.
His defence counsel also argued the judge had erred when directing the jury about the use of the evidence to show he had a tendency to commit the offences.
Justice Carolyn Simpson and Justice Peter McClellan agreed the prejudicial effect of the evidence against Fletcher was substantially outweighed by the probative value.
“I am therefore not persuaded that any miscarriage of justice arose as a result of the admission of [the alleged victim] evidence,” Justice Simpson said.
Fletcher, who will be considered for parole on June 4, 2012, did not appear in court yesterday.