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Wednesday, 13 March, 2002, 14:19 GMT
Priest admits child porn charge
Father Michael O'Kelly, Dean of Reading
Father O'Kelly told how he could not control his urges
A senior Catholic priest was caught with more than 30,000 photographs and computer images of children involved in sexually depraved acts, a court has heard.

Father Michael O'Kelly, 47, the Dean of Reading, admitted his "guilty secret" on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty at Newbury Magistrates Court in Berkshire to a single charge of making indecent pseudo-photographs of a child between June 1997 and October 2000.

The court was told that the images, found on videos, magazines and stored on computer discs, also involved bestiality and were "disturbing, degrading and disgusting".

What I was doing in private was destroying what I did in public - it was my guilty secret

Father Michael O'Kelly
He has been on administrative leave since his arrest on 15 October last year in a joint operation between Thames Valley Police and Customs and Excise.

The priest, who is now living at Horton Hospital in Epsom, Surrey, told interviewing officers he began looking at the child pornography when working as a missionary in Africa.

"Having gained access to the Internet I couldn't control it.

"I was afraid but I followed. I simply did not or could not control it.

"What I was doing in private was destroying what I did in public - it was my guilty secret."

Career over

Father O'Kelly, of previous good character, said he ran up huge phone bills of up to 1,500 a month by accessing the Internet.

He said the images were for "fantasy and masturbation".

In his defence John Francis told the court his client was attending a residential course at the Surrey Hospital forcing him to look at what he had done and to examine his activities.

Mr Francis said the case had been devastating for Father O'Kelly and that his career in the church was now finished forever.

Father O'Kelly was committed for sentence at Reading Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

He was released on unconditional bail.

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See also:

20 Feb 02 | England
Porn charge priest in court
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