The church kept this abusive priest, so some victims got him charged by the police

By a Broken Rites researcher

On 24 July 2014, Catholic priest, Father Patrick Holmes (then aged 79), was jailed for sexually abusing two young girls in Western Australia many years ago (one girl in 1969 and the other girl about 1981). The first victim eventually reported Father Holmes to the church authorities in 2000, but the church continued to list "Reverend Patrick Holmes" as a priest in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory. In 2014 this victim finally spoke to police, who immediately charged Holmes. In 2018, Patrick Holmes (now aged 83) is in court again in Perth, charged with additional child-sex offences from 40 years ago.

The 2014 court case

In the 2014 case, Holmes was sentenced in the District Court of Western Australia after pleading guilty to six child-sex charges.

The court was told that the first three offences were committed in 1969 (when Holmes was aged 34) and involved a girl aged about six or seven. Holmes was then the parish priest at Holy Name parish in Carlisle (a suburb of Perth) and the offences were committed against this girl in the presbytery.

The court was told that this girl was a pupil at the primary school next to his church. She would regularly visit Father Holmes after school and was given treats and cash in return for her co-operation and silence.

The court was told that Father Holmes placed his hand down this girl's pants and also rubbed his crotch against hers.

The second girl was abused about 1981 (when Holmes was aged about 46), in the presbytery of the Saint Aloysius parish in Shenton Park (another Perth suburb) where Holmes was again the parish priest. The girl was aged 10 or 11.

Holmes touched this girl's breasts, vagina and buttocks, the court was told. She was given treats.

Later, during the 1990s until 2000 (according to the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory), Father Holmes was the parish priest of St Joseph's parish, Subiaco (a Perth suburb).

In 2000 (when Holmes was aged 65), the first victim notified the Catholic Church authorities about Holmes's offences, and Holmes wrote her a letter of apology. Holmes took retirement from parish work but the church authorities continued to list him as a priest (*Reverend Patrick Holmes, retired") in the annual editions of the Australian Catholic Directory.

The 1969 victim reported the matter to police in January 2014 - fourteen years after telling the church about it. The police, unlike the church, made sure that Holmes was charged. He appeared in a Perth magistrates court on 15 April 2014 for preliminary proceedings, at which he pleaded guilty. The sentencing was then scheduled for mid-2014.

[A media report of the April 2014 court hearing stated: "Holmes was most recently working as a hospital chaplain.]

At the pre-sentencing proceedings, Holmes' lawyer told the court that Holmes started studying to be a priest when he was in his teens, and was ordained when he was 21.

In his sentencing remarks, Judge Henry John Wisbey said that Holmes had abused his position of trust, authority and pastoral regard, and exploited the naivety and young age of his victims "to achieve your criminal purposes".

The abuse had had an extremely significant and long-lasting adverse psychological impact on his victims, Judge Wisbey said.

He told Holmes: "You have brought considerable shame on your self, that is a consequence of your offending behaviour."

The judge said that the only mitigating factor in sentencing was that Holmes had pleaded guilty at the earliest opportunity and had co-operated with police.

Judge Wisbey that said an immediate term of imprisonment was the only appropriate sentence. He took into account Holmes' old age and low risk of reoffending.

He sentenced Holmes to three years jail. Holmes would be eligible for parole after serving 18 months behind bars.

More charges in 2018

In 2018, Father Patrick Holmes (now aged 83) is in court again, charged with more child-sex offences from 40 years ago.

Tags: