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Further complaint against former monk who sexually abused three boys, court told

Vincent Lewis at an earlier hearing. Picture by Mark Jamieson.

A FURTHER complaint has been received in connection with a 90-year-old former monk who sexually abused three boys, the Court of Appeal heard today.

Senior judges were also told Vincent Lewis made financial contributions towards compensation paid out to victims.

Lawyers for the Public Prosecution Service are seeking to have his prison sentence increased, claiming the nine-and-a-half-year term was unduly lenient.

Lewis, formerly Brother Ambrose of Our Lady of Bethlehem Monastery in Portglenone, Co Antrim, pleaded guilty to more than 50 offences committed over a 10-year period up to 1983.

He abused one boy while still a monk, and targeted the others after marrying and moving to Annagher Road in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

Following conviction the trial judge said he had inflicted lifelong damage and pain on victims who had lost their right to innocence.

Unlike the many good clergy within the Church, Lewis was branded "an evil monk".

Earlier this year he was jailed and ordered to complete a further year on probation.

But prosecutors have now launched a bid to have the sentence increased.

They contend that too much discount was given because of his age.

Senior counsel told the court: "The starting point in this case was too low."

Escorted into court by prison guards, Lewis sat with his head bowed and eyes closed for much of the hearing.

His barrister countered that he has apologised to one of the complainants and expressed regret for his actions.

The court also heard civil proceedings were brought against the monastery in around 2005.

It paid for counselling work in an attempt to alleviate the impact of the abuse on that victim.

"The accused was asked to contribute financially to that and he did so," his lawyer said.

"We are told the amount of compensation was very substantial, and the accused himself contributed on three or four occasions financially to that compensation.

"It doesn't appear to have been large amounts, a matter of hundreds (of pounds), but nevertheless he did contribute."

The three appeal judges were told a further complaint has been received within the last month.

"I'm told it's a relatively low-level," defence counsel added.

According to the prosecution the alleged incident relates to a period between 1983-85.

Reserving judgment on the appeal, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan pledged to give a decision before the end of June.

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