|IMAGE TAKEN FROM the article entitled, Priest John Denham abused more than 50 children in parishes across NSW, a court has heard. - CLICK HERE TO READ THE WHOLE STORY|
By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 2 April 2016)
Father John Joseph Farrell (sometimes referred to, for legal reasons, as "Father F") was a Catholic priest in northern New South Wales in the 1980s (and later in western Sydney until 1992). He committed numerous sexual crimes against young boys and girls. He has recently been convicted for 50 of these incidents and he is now locked up in custody, awaiting details of his sentence. In April 2016, a Sydney judge will hold a hearing to calculate the exact number of years which Farrell must spend in jail for all these crimes.
Farrell (now aged 62 and no longer a priest) has pleaded guilty to 40 of these 50 crimes, thus avoiding a jury trial on those offences. However, he contested the remaining charges by lodging a plea of "not guilty", thus necessitating a jury trial on those charges. On 16 February 2016 a jury found him guilty of ten additional charges.
In Sydney's Downing Centre District Court in April 2016, Judge Peter Zahra will hold a pre-sentence process regarding all the 50 offences. The judge will begin by hearing submissions from the prosecutor and the defence about what kind of jail sentence Farrell should receive. Any of the victims has the right to submit an impact statement to the judge, explaining how the abuse (and the cover-up) affected their later lives. Afterwards, the judge will announce his decision about the exact sentence.
John Joseph Farrell was born on 4 July 1953 in Armidale (470 kilometres north of Sydney), in a Catholic family belonging to the cathedral parish in that city. He grew up closely associated with priests. In the late 1970s he trained for the priesthood, and in 1981 he became ordained as a priest of the Armidale diocese in north-western New South Wales.
The Armidale diocese is one of the eleven Catholic dioceses into which the state of New South Wales is divided. The Armidale diocese includes two dozen parishes, covering an extensive region around the New England Highway — including towns such as Tamworth (in the south of the diocese) and Moree, Narrabri and Inverell (in the north-west). This diocese extends as far north as the Queensland border.
The town of Armidale is merely where the bishop and the cathedral are situated (and it is also the town where Farrell was living, as a private citizen, after he ceased working in parishes some years ago).
How the case began
In July 2012, the NSW Police Sex Crimes Squad established a special team of detectives (named Strike Force Glenroe) to investigate the allegations concerning John Joseph Farrell. This unit is based at NSW Police Headquarters in Parramatta, Sydney.
Later in 2012, police arrested Farrell at his home in Armidale. He was taken to Armidale Local Court, where prosecutors filed the first batch of charges. This was the first step in what would be a complex process. A magistrate ordered that, until further notice, the media must not publish the defendant's name. The prosecutor objected to this non-publication order but the order remained in force for the next two and a half years during the Local Court processes.
During this name-suppression period, there were about two dozen occasions when various parts of the Farrell case were listed in court for a particular procedure. On the court's daily schedule, this defendant's name would be listed simply as "JF". And people sometimes spoke of him as "Father F". The media referred to the defendant only as "a former priest" or "an ex-priest".
In January 2016 the case finally proceeded to a judge in a higher court, the Sydney District Court, where it is now in the hands of Judge Zahra. In February 2016, after the jury's "Guilty" verdict, Judge Zahra lifted the name-suppression order, and therefore the media could refer to "John Joseph Farrell".
Further details about John Joseph Farrell will emerge when Judge Zahra begins his pre-sentence proceedings in April 2016. Judge Zahra will sentence Farrell for all his charged offences, including those for which Farrell pleaded guilty as well as those in the jury's verdict. - CLICK HERE AND CONTINUE READING...