Priest in court accused of historical sex abuse

Daniel John Curran confirmed his name and that he was aware of the charge against him. Credit: UTV

By Paul Higgins

A paedophile former priest has appeared in court accused of historical sex abuse.

Standing in the dock of Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court on Monday, 68-year-old Daniel John Curran confirmed his name and that he was aware of the charge against him.

Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, is accused of indecently assaulting a male on a date unknown between 16 August 1989 and 18 August 1991.

None of the evidence surrounding the 30-year-old charges was opened in court in the short Preliminary Enquiry, the legal step necessary to move a case to the higher Crown Court, but a prosecuting lawyer submitted that the crown papers and witness statements formed the basis of a Prima Facie case against the former Catholic priest.

The court clerk told Curran that although not obliged to, he had the right to comment on the charge, five evidence to the PE or call witnesses on his behalf but that anyone giving evidence was liable to cross examination.

Curran declined the opportunity however, telling the court clerk simply “no” to each of the questions.

Freeing the former priest on his own bail of £500, District Judge Amanda Brady returned the case to Downpatrick Crown Court for trial but said the arraignment would be in a date to be fixed.

Curran’s defence solicitor asked for legal aid to be extended to allow for a senior QC to be instructed in the defence case but Judge Brady told him: “If you want two counsel you can apply to the Crown Court Judge.”

Ordinarily, defendants are taken into custody until their bail papers are ready to sign but following a defence application, the judge said Curran “doesn’t have to go into custody” but could wait with his solicitor to sign his bail.