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Former Buxton priest jailed for child sex offences dies in prison

Francis Cullen
Francis Cullen

A former priest who was jailed for sex offences on children, including two girls in Buxton, has died in prison.

Francis Cullen, who served at St Anne's Catholic Church on Terrace Road between 1978 and 1987, was jailed for 15 years in 2014.

Francis Cullen

Francis Cullen

He died at HMP Oakwood on June 24, aged 89.

He had pleaded guilty to 21 charges of sexual abuse, involving five boys and two girls in Buxton, Mackworth and Nottingham.

The offences took place between 1957 and 1991 and Cullen had been on the run for 22 years after skipping bail in 1991, before being extradited to the UK in 2013.

During the court case, Judge Jonathan Gosling said: "You were able to continue getting away with your crimes for two reasons. First because of the position you held. In the years that you practised in the Catholic ministry, devout parishioners revered the priest and of course trusted him without question.

“Secondly, you were held personally in the highest esteem: formidable, charismatic, very intelligent and extremely popular.

“You were welcomed into parents’ homes. They could never have guessed that in truth you were a predatory paedophile.

“You were in reality cunning, devious, arrogant, despicable. You took full advantage of your position to satisfy your perverted lust.

“To say that you were a disgrace to your cloth understates your activity. This was gross hypocrisy. In a sentence, your entire life was a lie.”

And speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Ed Mellor said: “Cullen has not only ruined the many lives of his victims but deeply affected the families and friends of those who support them.

"Cullen is a predatory paedophile who targeted children misusing his position of great trust over several decades."

All deaths in custody are subject to an investigation by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman.