Catholic priest who preyed on schoolboys branded a 'beast' as he is jailed for historic sex offences in Leeds

A Catholic priest has been locked up after being found guilty of sexually abusing six boys in his care.

By Tony Gardner
Friday, 8th April 2022, 8:08 am

Father Patrick Smythe was locked up for seven and a half years after a jury reached unanimous guilty verdicts after a trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Jurors heard how Smythe, 79, preyed on three of his victims during swimming trips to the former Leeds International Pool.Smythe also targeted boys in his care while on a retreat at a hostel in North Yorkshire.

A judge who sentenced Smythe told the pensioner he had told a "pack of lies" to the court during the trial.Judge Simon Batiste said: "The offences involved six different complainants who were at the time of the offences aged between 12 and 16.

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Father Patrick Smythe was jailed for seven and a half years after being found guilty of indecent assault offences against six boys.

"You are a Catholic priest.

"During the trial you denied any criminal wrongdoing whatsoever.

"You took an oath on the Bible - the book that you have purported to have used to preach from for many years - and then told a series of falsehoods and lies that the jury have seen through.

"In short, your account in relation to these matters is a pack of lies."

Father Patrick Smythe preyed on three of his victims during swimming trips to the former Leeds International Pool.

Smythe, 79, of Manor Square, Otley, was found guilty of six counts of indecent assault and one of attempted indecent assault.

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The offences were committed around four decades ago.

Three of the victims provided statements to court describing the lifelong suffering the abuse had caused them.

One described how it led to him abusing alcohol from an early age.

He said: "I never felt able to discuss the issue with my family because of the shame and anxiety and fear it caused me to feel.

"I hope that as a result of the trial, after 45 years, I can finally move on with my life in a more positive direction."

Another victim described Smythe as "a beast".

He said: "He used the church to get within touching distance of young boys."

A third victim said the abuse caused him to lose faith in the Catholic church and that he feared he would never see Smythe be brought to justice.

He said: "I told myself that if he was never judged in this life then he will get his judgement before God when he meets his maker."

Smythe showed no emotion as he sat in the court dock during the hearing.

In addition to the prison sentence, he was told he must go on the sex offender register for life.

Susannah Proctor, mitigating for Smythe, said: "He has given his life to the church. The church are his family.

"I have no doubt that from today the church will withdraw that support for him.

"That is something of his own making."

Judge Batiste paid tribute to the victims as he imposed the sentence upon Smythe.

He said: "For some of these boys it is evident that the impact of your abuse was significant and has lived with them until the present day.

"I pay tribute to the six victims in this case who have shown great bravery and fortitude to give evidence against you."

After the case, Detective Inspector Vicky Alexander, of Leeds District Safeguarding Unit, said: “Smythe abused his position of trust to systematically exploit the victims as children over a number of years.

“His actions will have had a lasting impact on the victims’ lives, and we commend the considerable courage they have shown by coming forward as adults to report the offences and support the prosecution that has seen him brought to justice.

“We will always treat sexual offences of this nature very seriously and we have specialist safeguarding officers who will support victims throughout the investigation and court process.

“This was a lengthy and complex investigation which saw safeguarding officers from Leeds and Wakefield painstakingly building up a detailed evidential picture which has resulted in Smythe being convicted.

“We hope it will provide some degree of comfort to the victims to know that he has now had to answer for his actions.”