THE Catholic pedophile priest whose crimes were the catalyst for a royal commission will remain a danger to male children until the day he dies, a court was told as he faces an even lengthier jail sentence for crimes against a young boy.
John Sidney Denham, 77, should never have access to children and should never have a relationship of any kind with a male child when he leaves jail, even though he could be in his early 90s, a psychiatrist said in a report tendered at a Sydney District Court sentencing hearing on Wednesday.
Although Denham's overall risk of re-offending is likely to be low, if he is still alive when his current minimum jail term expires in 2028, his placement in the community will need close monitoring despite being an extremely advanced age, Judge Phillip Mahony was told.
The Crown has argued for an even longer jail sentence for Denham after he was found guilty in October of repeatedly sexually abusing a young boy under 10 at Taree in the late 1970s, including raping him in a church presbytery after calling the boy from a Catholic primary school playground.
Denham is already serving a minimum 19 years and five months' jail sentence for crimes against 56 boys after guilty findings in 2010 and 2015 trials, and was found guilty in 2001 of offences against another young Catholic boy in 2001 but did not serve a jail sentence. The victims were aged from 5 to 17 and the offences occurred between 1968 and 1986.
Denham sat with arms crossed in a NSW jail during the short sentencing hearing on Wednesday and said nothing after initially complaining he could not hear proceedings via the court audio-visual link.
He did not respond as the court heard details how he planned to sexually abuse the young boy from a very devout Catholic family by asking the child to stay behind after school "under the guise of an initiation process to be a new altar boy".
The boy was raped on a later occasion after Denham called the child from the playground, "grabbed him by the arm and dragged him to the presbytery under the pretext the victim had been bad and had to be punished".
Denham pushed the boy onto a desk, held him by the neck against the desktop and raped him, despite the boy screaming and begging him to stop because of the pain, the court.
The young boy was also repeatedly sexually abused by another man who visited and sometimes stayed at the Taree presbytery, David O'Grady, who was jailed after he was found guilty of the offences in a 2006 trial.
Barrister for Denham, Michael McAuley, told Judge Mahony it "goes without saying these are very serious matters" and sentencing the defrocked priest was "quite a difficult matter" because the Taree offences were "part of a long history of crime over many years".
Mr McAuley argued it would be inappropriate to sentence Denham for the most recent Taree convictions from today's date, and the judge had to take into account concurrent sentences handed down by Judge Helen Syme in 2010 and 2015 for multiple offences against 56 other boys during the 1970s and 1980s.
Barrister Matt Coates for the Crown told Judge Mahony he had to consider what the impact on Denham's overall sentence would have been in 2010 or 2015 if the most recent offences had been included in the convictions considered by Judge Syme.
"If this matter was dealt with, with the other matters, what sentence would have been imposed," Mr Coates said.
The victim, who was not in court, prepared a victim impact statement that was read by Judge Mahony.
He told the Newcastle Herald he felt extreme anger towards the Catholic Church because the crimes were "as raw as though it happened yesterday".
"A long time ago a little boy was raped by a Catholic priest on church grounds. That day he started crying, bleeding and was broken. Today that boy is still crying, bleeding and broken. The Catholic Church broke me, so now they can fix me," he said.
Denham will be sentenced in May.
The suicide of one of Denham's victims, Belmont North fireman John Pirona, was the catalyst for the Herald's 2012 Shine the Light campaign for a royal commission into church sexual abuse of children.