News National Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson avoids jail over abuse cover up

Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson avoids jail over abuse cover up

ex archbishop philip wilson home detention
The former archbishop will server his 12-month sentence in home detention. Photo: AAP
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Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson has avoided jail for covering up child sex abuse by a paedophile priest.

Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone on Tuesday decided Wilson, 67, should serve his 12-month custodial sentence in home detention, not jail.

Mr Stone said a report by the Gosford Community Corrections office found Wilson was suitable for home detention.

He ordered Wilson be detained at his sister’s home near Newcastle for at least six months, after which he will be eligible for parole.

Wilson, who was forced to resign as Archbishop of Adelaide in July 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.

Wilson refused to quit for two months 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 his resignation as a ”catalyst to heal pain and distress”.

Mr 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.

Wilson was found guilty in May of concealing the sexual assault of children between 2004 and 2006, at the hands of paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the 1970s.

At the time, Mr Stone said he took into account Wilson’s age and failing health in his sentencing.

However, he also stressed the seriousness of the conviction, saying the sentence reflected the “criminality of the concealment and recognised the harm done to the community”.

Leading advocates, including survivors of Fletcher’s crimes said they were “very disappointed” that it seemed almost certain Wilson would not be incarcerated in prison.

Peter Gogarty, one of Fletcher’s victims, said outside court he felt Wilson had “got off lightly”.

-with AAP