National

Wilson must be sacked and jailed: victims

By AAP Newswire

The most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child sex crimes should be jailed by a NSW magistrate and sacked by the Pope, abuse victims say.

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson stood aside but refused to resign after he was found guilty in May of failing to report to police the historical indecent assault of two altar boys.

The 67-year-old must wait two weeks to learn his fate but abuse survivor Peter Creigh says Wilson should be locked up to send a message to religious leaders that institutional cover-ups will no longer be tolerated.

Pedophile priest James Fletcher repeatedly abused Mr Creigh in the Hunter region during the 1970s but when the teen went to Wilson for help the clergyman did nothing.

Speaking after Wilson's sentence hearing on Tuesday, Mr Creigh said the Vatican's continued silence showed a lack of leadership.

"It just shows the contempt the church holds to the people who matter most - that's the parishioners and also the most vulnerable children," he said outside Newcastle Local Court.

Fletcher was found guilty in 2004 of nine counts of child sexual abuse and died in jail of a stroke in 2006.

"(Wilson) thought he'd gotten away with this for all those years," Prosecutor Gareth Harrison said.

"He lied and the root of each of those lies is the unflinching loyalty to the Catholic Church and protecting it at all costs."

Defence barrister Ian Temby QC said Wilson may not survive jail if his diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's and "recurrent falls" worsened amid the risk of violence from fellow inmates.

But Mr Creigh said the archbishop's long list of chronic illnesses shouldn't mean he escaped punishment. He questioned how the archbishop was still walking "let alone staying in his job".

The offence carries a maximum two-year jail term but Wilson's legal team argued for a good behaviour bond instead, lauding him as a trailblazer for introducing church police checks, audits and compliance systems.

"The offender is not just a man who has no prior convictions but is, in fact, a man of prior positive good character with particular reference to the general field of prevention of child sexual abuse," Mr Temby said.

The barrister stressed Wilson's crime was below the medium range of seriousness for such offences and akin to a "simple assault".

That didn't sit well with another of Fletcher's victims, Daniel Feenan, who said if Wilson had gone to the police in 1976 - the year he was born - his life would have been very different.

"If our legal system slaps a bond on this bloke, when it's international news, it'll make our system look inadequate," he said.

The court heard Wilson has shown no remorse and Mr Feenan expects he'll never apologise.

"That's the arrogance of the man," he said.

Fletcher also preyed on Peter Gogarty, who said Wilson's incarceration could open the floodgates around the world and empower more victims to speak up.

"There is much more at stake than just a slap on the wrist or some public embarrassment," he said.

"The deterrent effect of a custodial sentence will mean that children across the globe are safer.

"He either resigns today or the Pope should dismiss him."

Magistrate Robert Stone questioned whether Wilson could be placed on an intensive corrections order to be served in the community given he lives outside NSW.

Mr Stone reserved his sentencing decision until July 3.