Priest recruited thugs to threaten nephew

Priest recruited thugs to threaten nephew

Francis Kelleher, above, a 59-year-old former hospital chaplain in Ireland who paid €4,000 to three men to threaten his nephew, has been sentenced to prison for four years.

The three “heavies”, who said they were members of the Continuity IRA, told Niall Kelleher, a father of three, to drop a civil action against his uncle, Francis, or he would die.

Francis Kelleher yesterday pleaded guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to four counts of coercion.

Outlining the background to the case, Det Garda Micheal O’Regan told the court that Niall Kelleher had issued civil proceedings against his uncle in May 2012.

The chaplain later told an unnamed individual about the civil action.  This man, was in the habit of bringing a religious relic to sick people in hospital, told the priest he could get it sorted, saying he had contacts in the IRA.

Garda O’Regan said shortly afterwards Niall Kelleher was visited by three men at work, who had earlier visited his home. They told him to withdraw his statement against the priest, and drop the case.

They said they were from the Continuity IRA, and if he did not he would not see the following week.

Over the next six months, he continued to receive threatening telephone calls to withdraw his statement, including calls in which he was told “withdraw your statement or die”, “this is your last chance”, followed by another call saying “you blew it”.

In a final threatening call in January 2013, he was told:

Niall, you are a nice guy, but I have been paid a lot of money to take care of you, withdrawn your statement!.

Because of the threats he had to increase the security at his home, and he was put under 24-hour surveillance by local gardaí, who took the threats very seriously.

The former chaplain apologised to his nephew in court saying he never intended matters to get as nasty as they did.

Judge O’Donnabhain said he had to take a stand against:

Fellows who get cowards to go out onto the streets to threaten people.

This he said was appalling behaviour from a man who was then a professed priest.

He accepted that the chaplain is a fragile, lonely man, and that he is remorseful, that he apologised and is unlikely to re-offend. But he had read the victim impact statement and he believed every word of it.

The Bishop of Cork and Ross, Bishop John Buckley said in a statement:

It is deeply regrettable that such an offence could have been committed by anyone, and particularly by a priest.

Bishop Buckley said that the diocese cooperated fully with the Gardaí’s investigation into the matter, and that it will now initiate canonical proceedings against the former chaplain.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake.

12 responses to “Priest recruited thugs to threaten nephew”

  1. gedediah says:

    It’s wrong for a priest to threaten physical violence, but threats of eternal torment are fine.

  2. Lucy1 says:

    What was the civil matter? I would like to know….

  3. L.Long says:

    Threats of hell are OK because priests are professional liars and hell is non-provable so is just another lie…so no big deal religions always lie and have no problem with violence either…it just a good thing there are no bears in the area.

  4. Denis Craik says:

    Surely a simple prayer would have sorted things out…..maybe he just didn’t pray hard enough.

  5. sailor1031 says:

    Given the long-standing connections between RCC Inc and the Mafia did the priests learn these tactics from the mob or did the mob learn from the priests?

  6. sailor1031 says:

    Denis: he’s a catholic priest – they don’t believe in the “power of prayer”. They know it can’t work, it’s just mumbo-jumbo to keep the masses contributing.

  7. Broga says:

    ” This man, was in the habit of bringing a religious relic to sick people in hospital…” I suppose this was what convinced the priest that this man could solve the problem. I wonder what the religious relic was. Ancient bones of suspect provenance often pass as the bones of saints. I suspect that with the use of DNA many saints’ bones will be discovered to belong to long dead dogs etc.

    The “heavies” were not impressive, were they? I’m an expert on the Mafia as a result of watching “The God Father” and a horse’s head in the bed (or maybe a dead cat would be easier) would have got a result.

  8. Vanity Unfair says:

    “…with the use of DNA many saints’ bones will be discovered to belong to long dead dogs etc.”
    After the shroud business I suspect it will be a long time until the next scientific investigation of a relic. St. Januarius’s blood would be my choice.

  9. Broga says:

    Vanity Unfair : Pieces of the “True Cross” are everywhere and have attracted many pilgrimages. Someone calculated that there were enough bits of the Cross to build dozens of them.

  10. Robster says:

    Seems the majority of those afflicted with god belief to the point of wanting to sell the stuff to innocent people are all quite mad,a sandwich short of a picnic perhaps. I suppose if you’re going to confidently lie to people about the loving Jesus nonsense, your intellect would have to be somewhat compromised.

  11. Marky Mark says:

    ( I’m an expert on the Mafia as a result of watching “The God Father” )

    @Broga…LMFAO, Thanks Broga….I spit my mouthful of wine all over my screen after reading that comment. Do you have a comedy stand-up act to go along with that comment?