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Anger as home detention confirmed for former Archbishop Philip Wilson


UPDATED | Former Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson will have to wear a tracking device as he serves at least six months in home detention for covering up child sex abuse.

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Wilson was handed a one year custodial sentence in July for concealing abuse by pedophile priest James Fletcher in the NSW Hunter region.

But magistrate Robert Stone today told Newcastle Local Court the 67-year-old was suitable for home detention following an assessment by authorities – a decision that sparked angry scenes after the hearing.

Stone ordered Wilson be detained at his sister’s house near Newcastle for at least six months, when he’ll be eligible for parole.

He said Wilson’s detention would be under strict supervision and he would have to wear a tracking device as required.

Wilson, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Adelaide after becoming the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex abuse, showed no emotion when the decision was handed down.

His lawyer Ian Temby QC told the court Wilson planned to lodge an appeal against his conviction today but would not be applying for bail.

Outside court, Wilson was confronted by Peter Gogarty – one of Fletcher’s victims.

He repeatedly asked the clergyman if he would apologise as he was led to a waiting car but was ignored.

“I’m beside myself about this,” Gogarty told reporters.

“I’m still here, still hurting … and not a single, solitary word to say sorry.”

Gogarty said Wilson’s home detention was too lenient, labelling it a six-month “holiday” at his sister’s home.

Stone found Wilson guilty in May during a landmark magistrate-only trial of failing to go to the police to report the repeated abuse of two altar boys by Fletcher.

Fletcher was found guilty of child sexual abuse in 2004 and died in jail of a stroke in 2006.

Wilson for two months refused to quit following his conviction, claiming he wanted to wait for the outcome of his appeal.

But under mounting pressure from child abuse victims and Catholic priests to resign, and calls from Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for the Pope to sack him, Wilson offered up his resignation as a ”catalyst to heal pain and distress”.

Stone found Wilson had shown no remorse or contrition for the cover-up and his primary motive had been to protect the Catholic Church.

The magistrate accepted Wilson was unlikely to re-offend but had to serve a period of detention to act as a deterrence to others.

He said given Wilson’s age, mental and physical conditions and the fact he had previously been of good character, a home detention order was an adequate punishment.

In a statement today, the Adelaide Archdiocese said Bishop Greg O’Kelly would remain in charge while the search for a new Archbishop continued.

O’Kelly said he was “keeping Archbishop Wilson in his prayers as he formally commences this stage in his life, while also remembering the victims and survivors of abuse in the Church”.

– with AAP

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