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Paedophile priest admits child sex abuse after two decades on the run

A former Catholic priest who worked in Alfreton has pleaded guilty to a string of child-related sex offences – after spending more than 20 years on the run in Spain.

Francis Paul Cullen admitted 21 counts of indecent assault on seven children across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire when he appeared at Derby Crown Court today.

The abuse of the five boys and two girls aged six to 16 took place between 1957 and 1991, the court heard.

Cullen, who is currently being held in prison in Nottingham, also admitted one charge of attempted buggery on a 14-year-old boy in August 1969.

The 85-year-old, who was born in Dublin and ordained in 1953, was a priest at the Church of Christ the King in Alfreton. He also worked in Buxton, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester and Scunthorpe.

Cullen, who retired in 1991, was first arrested in Nottingham that year – but he skipped bail and fled to Tenerife where he lived for more than two decades. He was was extradited back to the UK from Spain.

Father Andrew Cole, spokesman for the Diocese of Nottingham, said: “We are pleased that he has taken responsibility for his terrible crimes.

“I would like to offer our sympathy to those who have been affected by this tragedy in any way and assure them that we will do whatever we can to support them.

“I also wish to thank Cullen’s victims for their bravery in coming forward after many years of silence. Nothing can take away the horror of what happened to them, but I hope today’s verdict will help them in some small way to find peace.”

Detective Constable Matt Goodwin, of Derbyshire police, added: “Cullen’s abhorrent behaviour has had a significant impact on his victims.

“If anyone else wants to report any abuse against them they should be confident that we will take their allegations seriously and carry out thorough investigations.”

Cullen will be sentenced on March 24.


 
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