Category Archives: Father Maxwell Halahan
Father Maxwell Halahan – Cowes/Southsea
THE victim of a former Isle of Wight priest’s sex abuse has been awarded a £200,000 settlement from the Church of England to help him rebuild his shattered life.
The former choirboy received compensation from the church after suffering abuse in the 1970s at the hands of Father Maxwell Halahan at St Faith’s Church in Cowes.
It was not until 2011 that Halahan, then aged 81, was jailed for three years.
He had maintained his innocence to the last — putting his victim through the ordeal of having to give evidence in court.
The victim, who was in court to see Halahan jailed and said he hoped it sent a message to paedophiles that, no matter how historic the case, the law would catch up with them, instructed expert child abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell.
Now in his 40s, he was just eight years old when Halahan began sexually abusing him in the nearby vicarage.
The victim said he then went off the rails, resulting in a three-month spell in a detention centre when he was 15.
“When I left, my relationship with my mum was so bad that I couldn’t return home and because I couldn’t hold down a job, I was forced to sleep rough for several months. I had hit rock bottom,” he said.
He had numerous different jobs throughout his 20s and 30s, married and had two children, but the relationship did not work out and the abuse he had suffered continued to haunt him, leaving him regularly depressed and unable to concentrate, according to Irwin Mitchell.
Now remarried, he said: “In 2010 I plucked up the courage to go to the police because I realised he could still be out there putting other children through the same horrendous ordeal.
“Although nothing can make up for the horror of what that vile man put me through and the effects it has had on my life, the settlement does
finally give me some closure and I can concentrate on getting the best possible psychological support to try to rebuild my life.”
Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Christopher Foster, spoke this week of his personal sadness and how the Church of England had changed in the years since the abuse took place.
He said: “I was deeply saddened to hear of what happened in this case. Abusive behaviour is wholly wrong, offends all our values and should never happen.
“So, when Max Halahan was found guilty of this abuse, I acted to deprive him of his priestly ministry for life.
“The settlement we have reached with the victim, via our public liability insurers, is a reflection of the pain and suffering and of the financial loss that he suffered as a result of the abusive behaviour of Max Halahan.
“We understand that this kind of abuse, especially at the hands of someone he should have been able to trust, has had a massive impact on his life. He has our prayers as he seeks to rebuild his life.
“One of the things the victim told us is that he is grateful that things are very different in the Church of England today.
“The church, along with society as a whole, has made massive strides in its understanding of how to keep children and young people safe from such abuse.”
Former Southsea priest jailed for choir boy abuse
A RETIRED priest has been jailed for repeatedly abusing a choir boy.
For 35 years Maxwell Halahan, of Old Canal, Southsea, thought he had got away with the sexual assaults.
He tried to buy the boy’s silence by paying him extra money on top of what he was due for singing in the choir.
The victim, who is now in his 40s, had tried to tell his mother at the time but she dismissed what he was saying.
Halahan, who was a priest at St Faith’s Church in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight in the 1970s, was arrested last year when the victim went to the police for fear that Halahan could abuse other young boys.
The 81-year-old, who was convicted in 1998 of abusing another boy in 1987, denied the offences.
But he was found guilty of four counts of repeated indecent assaults after a trial at Portsmouth Crown Court.
Despite Halahan’s ill health Judge Roger Hetherington jailed him for three years.
Judge Hetherington said: ‘You were then a parish priest in your late 40s, the vicar of a Church of England parish on the Isle of Wight.
‘The victim was a choirboy, aged nine to 11, who regularly attended church. After morning communion he and other boys would go to the vicarage and play games in one of the rooms there.
‘You would come over and perhaps join in with some of the games. ‘You had an attraction to boys and you enticed this particular boy to stay on after the other boys had gone.’
He said Halahan repeatedly sexually abused the boy at the vicarage over a period of up to a year.
‘In essence you bought his silence by paying him extra money, over and above what he was due for singing in the choir,’ he said.
‘You knew his family, you knew that money was extremely tight and this boy was vulnerable.
‘He tried to tell his mother but she dismissed it and after that he tried to bury it.
‘It was entirely understandable that your victim did not report your offences at the time, having been rebuffed by his own mother.’
The victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was made to give evidence at the trial.
The judge said: ‘From his evidence I have no doubt that what you did had a very serious and damaging effect on his development.
‘As he put it in his own words “my childhood ended with Father Halahan”.’
Elisabeth Bussey-Jones said Halahan, who walks with a stick and is partially deaf, was too ill to withstand prison.
She said that at the time of the offences he had been suffering with mental health issues.
‘Clearly at that time, back in the 1970s, he was not a well man,’ she said.
She added that, because of his age and health, he no longer represented a risk to children.
But Judge Hetherington said: ‘In my judgement you do retain some vigour and mental agility.
‘I do not consider that your ill health is such that it procludes a custodial sentence.
‘The sentence must mark the gravity of the offences.’
Halahan will remain on the sex offender’s register indefinitely.