Pedophile may get parole after one year's prison

A Tasmanian Supreme Court Justice has sentenced former Marist priest Gregory Ferguson to two years prison with eligibility for parole after 12 months even though the man's crimes were "relatively serious".

Gregory Laurence Ferguson, 70, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting two boys at Burnie's Marist College in 1971, is in poor health and will be eligible for parole after 12 months, The Advocate reports.

Both of Mr Ferguson's victims, aged 13 at the time, have suffered long term to some degree from the assaults, which occurred in Mr Ferguson's room in the priests' quarters.

In sentencing yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Ewan Crawford said Mr Ferguson's crimes were "relatively serious" because of the age of the boys and the abuse of trust.

However, Justice Crawford said Mr Ferguson had no other criminal record and was in poor health, adding that "life in prison may well be hard for him".

Justice Crawford rejected a submission from Mr Ferguson's defence counsel that there may be retribution against him in prison.

Beyond Abuse spokesman Steve Fisher, after the sentencing, said he was very disappointed with the decision.

"Twelve months, when he would have had such a profound effect on these guys' lives, 12 months (non-parole) seems very, very light indeed," Mr Fisher said.

After the assaults in 1971, Mr Ferguson became a priest in various parishes, mainly in NSW, where he has lived for many years.

A Launceston Supreme Court jury returned the guilty verdicts against Mr Ferguson recently after several hours of deliberation.

Marist priest gets just one year Ferguson sentence shock - Ferguson sentence shock (The Advocate, 16/5/07)

Tasmanian priest guilty of abuse, SA accused dies (CathNews, 29/3/06)

17 May 2007

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