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Paedophile priest James Fletcher was buried with honours
Paedophile priest James Fletcher arrives at Maitland Local Court in 2003

THE Catholic church honoured a paedophile priest - who died in jail - with a marble headstone which listed his achievements.
One of James Patrick Fletcher's victims yesterday said the burial in the priests' section of Sandgate Cemetery near Newcastle was the "final insult".
A brass plaque records the deviant's career as a priest. In death he kept his title of Reverend Father.
A court found the 65-year-old had committed "a gross and inexcusable breach of trust" when he raped an altar boy, a crime for which he was sentenced to almost eight years prison, where he died in 2006.
One victim, Peter Gogarty, yesterday said he was "distressed" Fletcher retained his title in death and was buried in the priests' section.
"How can this man, a convicted paedophile, die and be buried in the priests' section of the cemetery? Fletcher should never have been buried as a priest," he said.
"That was the ultimate insult to Fletcher's victims."
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church said some people under the Code of Canon Law "should be deprived of ecclesiastical funerals ... such as heretics and apostates and also those who are held to be manifest sinners.
"Nevertheless, canon law commentators indicate that the presumption is in favour of giving someone a funeral and if a person considered to have been a manifest sinner were to have given some sign of repentance before death they are not to be denied a funeral."

The Daily Telegraph (15-11-2-12)
Gemma Jones

Bishop Apologies Over Abuse

A New South Wales Catholic bishop has apologised to the victims of a priest who was today convicted of child sex abuse.
Bishop Michael Malone said an East Maitland court found Father James Fletcher guilty of nine charges relating to sexual abuse with a minor.
"As bishop of the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, I apologise profoundly to the victims, who cannot be named, and the victims' family and friends for the immense pain and suffering caused by Father Fletcher's criminal actions," he said in a statement.
"Sexual abuse is a serious crime and cannot be tolerated.
"Because of these criminal actions, Father Fletcher will not return to the ministry."
Bishop Malone said a toll-free number had been set up so people could discuss their feelings with trained counsellors.
Those who wanted help or information in relation to abuse could contact the police or the church's Towards Healing process, he said.
Father Fletcher, who is in his early 60s and used to work in Branxton parish, was yet to be sentenced and there was another matter yet to go before court, he said.

www.news.com.au (6-12-2004)

Priest On sex Charges Named

THE Herald can now name Branxton Catholic priest Father James Fletcher as being charged with eight countsof having sex and one of committing an indecent act with a teenage boy.
The dates and places of the allegations can be published.
In East Maitland District Court, Judge Megan Latham yesterday lifted a non- publication order that had applied since February.
The alleged victim, now an adult, cannot be identified.
Father Fletcher, 62, has pleaded not guilty to all charges and a trial is scheduled to begin in November.
Father Fletcher is on leave - from his parish.
Barrister David Sibtain made the successful application to lift the non- publication order on behalf of The Herald (Newcastle Newspapers), the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the Nine (television) Network.
Mr Sibtain argued that suppressing Father Fletcher's name was beyond local and district court power and even if the power existed there was no legal basis for such an order.
Mr Sibtain's application said that there was no legal basis for preventing publication of the dates and places of the alleged offences.
There was no opposition from Father Fletchers legal representative.
Father Fletcher is charged with committing an act of indecency with a boy between December 15, 1988, and the end of January 1990.
He is charged with having sexual intercourse with the boy eight times between April 1990 and the end of November 1991.
It is alleged that the offences took place at six Hunter Valley sites.
To help protect the alleged victim's identity, The Herald has chosen not to name the places.
The Herald named Father Fletcher in May 2003 when he initially faced Maitland Local Court and a non-publication order covered only the alleged victim, places and times of the offences.
Father Fletcher did not enter a plea at that stage and was granted bail on condition he have no contact with children younger than 16 without adult supervision.
The suppression was extended in Newcastle Local Court in February and confirmed in the district court the following month.

The Herald (1-10-2004)

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