A MAGISTRATE has refused to suppress the name of a former Catholic priest who has been charged over historic child sex offences allegedly committed in parts of northern NSW.
John Joseph Farrell, 62, was charged on Wednesday by specialist detectives from a strike force set up to investigate alleged assaults upon young children in northern NSW several decades ago.
Farrell appeared in the dock of Wagga Wagga Local Court yesterday afternoon after he was refused bail by local police, charged with 26 separate offences.
During yesterday’s proceedings, detectives were in court, but Farrell was not required to enter a plea to the 18 counts of sexual assault and act of indecency against a person aged under 16.
He is also charged with eight counts of sexual assault of a person under 16.
Farrell did not apply for court bail and it was formally refused by magistrate Erin Kennedy. The case was adjourned to Central Local Court in Sydney next week for Farrell to make a bail application.
Farrell, wearing large round eye glasses and a red chequered flannelette shirt over another shirt, was led into the courtroom by two Corrective Services officers.
An application for a non-publication order preventing details of the case being made public was made on Farrell’s behalf by barrister Matthew Hutchings.
Mr Hutchings submitted there was a risk to Farrell’s safety should his identity be made public.
He said the type of charges laid against Farrell generated vilification and outrage in the community and said Farrell had been living in Harden for three years.
If granted bail, he could be at risk when he travelled to appear in court, Mr Hutchings argued.
The application was opposed by police prosecutor, Sergeant Kelly Huggett.
Sergeant Huggett quoted legislation and a precedent in relation to justice being open to the public.
“In my submission, it is a matter of convenience for the accused to have a suppression in place,” Sergeant Huggett said.
Ms Kennedy went off the bench to consider the application.
When she returned, she summed up the arguments of both sides before refusing the non-publication order request.
She said there was strong public interest in open justice and no evidence before the court to support the submission Farrell might be exposed to retaliation.