Northern Ireland news

No prosecution for Banbridge priest in ‘snorting cocaine' video

Fr Stephen Crossan will not face prosecution after being filmed appearing to snort a white powder
Brendan Hughes

A CATHOLIC priest videoed snorting what appeared to be cocaine in a room with Nazi memorabilia will not face prosecution.

Fr Stephen Crossan was filmed sniffing a white substance through a £10 note during a night of drinking at his parochial house in Banbridge, Co Down.

The 37-year-old placed a cigarette in an ashtray and seemed to say "I shouldn't" before snorting the powder off a plate.

Police launched an investigation after the footage, filmed last July following a party, emerged just over two months ago.

A spokesman confirmed on Thursday that a file was passed to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), but said no action is being taken.

"Police conducted an investigation and submitted a file to PPS who directed no prosecution," the PSNI said.

It is understood the case did not pass the evidential test for prosecution as police found no evidence of Class A drugs when they searched the property beside St Patrick's Church.

It is believed prosecutors also considered that it remained unclear from the footage whether the white powder was an illicit substance.

The Sun on Sunday, which first published the video, reported that Fr Crossan said: "It was just the one night and that was it. I do not have an issue with drugs."

The newspaper said a source also told it that when a group went back with the priest to his home they found Nazi memorabilia including flags, hats and an eagle with a swastika on a plinth on his mantelpiece.

Fr Crossan said he was "no Nazi" and collects historical items from every country.

He said he had been on sick leave with depression at the time of the video, and had since left the Church but was being supported by the parish.

In a statement after the footage emerged, Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey said Fr Crossan had taken an "extended leave of absence" in February.

He said the priest had been granted leave from his pastoral duties at Seapatrick parish since May last year.

Bishop McAreavey said he was concerned for the priest's health and "will pray for and support him and his family through whatever issues he is facing".

Fr Crossan, from Tullylish near Gilford, was appointed to Seapatrick as curate in 2012 and previously served in St Peter's, Lurgan, and Tullylish.

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