Former Sawtell parish priest Father John Casey performing at a Police Remembrance day service at Sawtell's Mary Help of Christians church.
Former Sawtell parish priest Father John Casey performing at a Police Remembrance day service at Sawtell's Mary Help of Christians church. Trevor Veale

Priest refused bail over alleged child sex offences

THE parish priest at Sawtell's Mary Help of Christians is facing a range of historic child sex assault charges.

Father John Casey, 67, is facing charges from incidents which allegedly occurred in the Lismore Diocese in the 1980s.

Fr Casey was refused bail in Port Macquarie Local Court today this morning after being charged with five counts of a sexual assault on a person under 16-years-old, four counts of sexual assault and committing an act of indecency.

Bishop of Lismore, Reverend Geoffrey Jarrett, said Fr Casey has been stood down from his position, effective immediately.

The priest,  who is also a part-time police chaplain, was arrested at 9am on Thursday and was taken to Kempsey Police Station.

Investigations by Richmond Local Area Command police started in February. The investigation has been referenced at the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

According to the Port Macquarie News, solicitor Stephen Wright argued Fr Casey could "languish in prison" for up to two years until the matter was handled by the district court.

Mr Wright reportedly suggested the accused could reside with his sister, who was present in court for support.

Mr Hodgson noted Fr Casey had strong community ties, no history of violence and no history of non-compliance with court orders. But he said the accusations related to "serious offences" and it was a "reasonably strong" prosecution case.

The magistrate said if found guilty he would likely face prison.

The matter was adjourned to Lismore Local Court on September 15.


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