Pedophile catholic priest likely to die in jail.

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Pedophile catholic priest likely to die in jail.

Victims of paedophile priest Robert Claffey have ­applauded police investigators for their work in finally bringing the man who stole their childhoods to justice.

Entering Geelong County Court on Tuesday, they took their seats in dignified silence.

Some were supported by family and friends, while ­others attended alone, after all these years still unable to disclose the horrors of their childhood to those closest to them.

Yet all were united in their pain, grief and sense of loss at the hands of this evil ­predator.

A door at the rear of the court opened and Claffey, a small, balding man, entered the dock.

Wearing dark glasses, Claffey sat down, adjusted headphones and, with hands clasped, looked straight ahead, avoiding all eye contact with others.

Judge Felicity Hampel’s sentencing started with a lengthy and harrowing ­account of the sexual abuse inflicted by the accused on innocent young children during his 25 years as a Catholic priest.

The victims turned to look at Caffey as Judge Hampel sentenced him to 18 years and four months’ jail for his appalling crimes.

One victim said later: “Calling him a paedophile ­almost makes it sound less than it was. This man was a rapist, that’s what he did and he did it repeatedly.

“While the sentence is very important, to be honest, it’s his admission of what he did that is more important to me.”

Another victim said he waited 30 years until his mother passed away before he could lodge a complaint about Claffey’s sexual abuse.

“My mother was a single mum at the time, doing the best she could in difficult circumstances,” he said.

“It would have killed her if I had told her.”

He said it was only after his mother’s death, he reported the sexual assaults to the Catholic Church and, later, police.

“The important thing has been for justice to prevail,” he said.

“It has and I’m grateful for that, but the pain, the anguish and hurt never really ­subsides.

“Still, you make sure the individual responsible doesn’t continue to impact on your life because that would be letting him win.

“I will now draw a line in the sand. This has finally given me a sense of closure.”