Depraved former priest Adrian McLeish, jailed in the 1990s for child sex charges, is back behind bars for indecent images offences
13:35, 28 APR 2017
Depraved Father Adrian McLeish took advantage of the boy’s vulnerability after his dad died unexpectedly.
The then-parish priest offered support and advice and even conducted the funeral of the youngster’s dad.
McLeish then invited the boy to his accommodation at a Tyneside church, sat him on his knee, showed him pictures on his computer and persuaded him to remove his lower clothing before trying to take an indecent image of him.
(Photo: North News / NNP)
When the victim became distressed, McLeish told him not to tell anyone, particularly his bereaved mother “as she has been through a lot”, he said.
The victim, who kept quiet about the abuse for years, eventually confided in a work colleague after reading about celebrity sex abuse cases in the press.
McLeish was jailed in 1996 for 22 sex offences including indecently assaulting boys and being part of a worldwide child abuse images network.
Now the 65-year-old is back in prison after the latest victim came forward to report what happened to him.
We can reveal McLeish was also caught with more indecent images of children, some of which he was involved in distributing, between 2006 and 2016, and was locked up for those offences in February.
Sentencing him at Newcastle Crown Court for the offence against the ten-year-old, a judge branded it a “gross breach of trust”.
Judge Paul Sloan QC told McLeish, who was on a video-link to prison: “At the time you were his parish priest.
“His father had died unexpectedly and you provided support and advice for the family.
(Photo: Newcastle Chronicle)
“On one occasion he visited you in your accommodation, you sat him on your knee and showed him images of cherubs and angels on your computer.
“You suggested he took off clothing to become innocent like the cherubs and angels.
“His lower clothing was removed, whereupon you tried to take a picture.
“He became distressed and you told him not to tell anyone what had happened, fearing for your position.”
The judge said the ordeal had done “real harm” and haunted the victim for decades.
He told McLeish: “At that time he felt scared, ashamed, disgusted and confused.
“The incident has had a long term effect, it’s effected his confidence, relationships, his health and led to him undergoing counselling.
“In other words what you did all those years ago has haunted him during the course of the decades since the offence was committed.
(Photo: PA Wire)
“Your offending involved a gross breach of trust as a parish priest.”
The victim, who is now an adult, said in a statement to the court he had trusted McLeish due to his position.
He said: “Immediately after this incident I felt scared, ashamed and disgusted and I was also confused as he was a trusted priest and welcomed in our home.
“I didn’t even know if it was normal.
“I stopped attending church.
“I was angry about this man’s actions.
“Recently, due to matters about celebrities in the press, all this started flooding back to me.”
McLeish, 65, latterly of Hillfield Square, Chalfont St Peter, Gerrard’s Cross, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to attempting to make an indecent photograph of a child and was given a 16 month prison sentence.
Robin Patton, defending, said the latest offence was less serious than the offending he was dealt with for in 1996.
He said: “Then he was arrested for physical sexual assaults rather than voyeuristic activities.
“He is in a sex offender-only prison.”
The sentence will run alongside a two-year jail term imposed in February in the south of England for possessing, making and distributing indecent images between 2006 and 2016.
McLeish was jailed for five years in 1996 for 22 offences, including 12 indecent assaults on boys and eight charges of possessing and distributing indecent images.
As we reported at the time, a routine probe in the USA sparked an international search which led to the unmasking of McLeish.
It uncovered a trail through the internet which criss-crossed the globe, eventually leading to Germany – where checks pointed police back to Durham City and St Joseph’s Presbytery.
It was in the modern building which should have offered hope and comfort that the Catholic priest hid his sickening secret. Armed with a warrant, a team of detectives uncovered his stash of indecent images which horrified all the officers.
Through seven months of checks the hardened team were sickened again and again as they uncovered new depths to his depravity. They found how McLeish, then 45, used three powerful computers to keep in regular contact with hundreds of other paedophiles and send messages describing his depraved acts.
And as they downloaded more information from the computers – some of which music-loving McLeish had built himself – they discovered thousands of photographic images of children, many pornographic, and countless sickening stories – enough to fill the entire Encyclopaedia Britannica.
The names of youngsters mentioned in his messages opened up a second investigation – and discovered children he had abused on Tyneside and in Durham City.