Priest’s case in hands of the jury  

Priest’s case in hands of the jury  

CONSISTENT evidence from the alleged victim was enough to convict Branxton Catholic parish priest James Patrick Fletcher of nine sexual abuse charges, Crown Prosecutor Gary Corr told East Maitland District Court yesterday.
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The 28-year-old man recalled details of extremely painful experiences he suffered as a 13-, 14- and 15-year-old at the hands of a person who held great authority over him at the time, Mr Corr said.

Barrister Ian Barker, QC, for Fletcher, disputed Mr Corr’s view, saying the alleged victim was “unlikely in the extreme to be telling the truth”.

The alleged victim had told “deliberate lies” and made up “monstrous accusations”, Mr Barker said.

Mr Corr and Mr Barker summed up the prosecution and defence cases yesterday in the trial before Judge Graham Armitage and a jury of eight men and four women, which began last week.

Fletcher, 63, on leave from his parish and now of Crebert Street, Mayfield, pleaded not guilty to eight counts of homosexual intercourse with a child aged between 10 and 18 and one count of committing an aggravated act of indecency with a child.

The offences are alleged to have happened at several Lower Hunter locations about 15 years ago.

The alleged victim said Fletcher engaged in oral and anal sex and masturbation with him when he was a teenager.

A second Hunter Valley man told the court that Fletcher performed oral sex on him twice as a 13-year-old during overnight stays in the Upper Hunter.

While Fletcher declined to personally give evidence in the case, in a videotaped interview with police that was played to the court, Fletcher denied all the accusations, said he had never done anything of a sexual nature with anyone and denied threatening anyone if they told of what he had done with them.

Judge Armitage began summing up yesterday afternoon and is expected to send the jury out this morning to consider its verdict.

Father James Patrick Fletcher