Priest has been jailed for hiring Continuity IRA to send his nephew death threats – – Our News, Your Views

Priest has been jailed for hiring Continuity IRA to send his nephew death threats



59 year old former hospital Chaplain Francis Kelleher has been jailed for hiring IRA hit men to threaten his nephew Niall Kelleher.

Kelleher paid €4,000 to the three men who said they were members of the Continuity IRA.

The three men told Niall to drop a civil action against his uncle or he would die. Detective Garda Michael O’Regan told the court that Niall Kelleher had issued civil proceedings against his uncle in May 2012.

The chaplain later told an unnamed individual about the civil action.

Francis Kelleher pleaded guilty to four counts of coercion at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today.

Kelleher who used to bring a religious relic to sick people in hospital told him he could sort it out for him saying that he had contacts in the IRA.

Garda O’Regan said that Niall Kelleher was visited by three men at his house and his work. The men told Niall to withdraw his statement against the priest and to drop the case and if he didn’t he wouldn’t see next week.

Over the next six month he continued to receive threatening phone calls in which he was told “withdraw your statement or die”, “this is your last chance” and “you blew it”.

Niall who has a wife and three children received the final threatening call in January 2013 and was told “Niall you’re a nice guy but I have been paid a lot of money to take care of you, withdraw your statement”.

Because of these threats Niall had to increase the security at his home and was put under 24 hour surveillance by local Gardaí who took the threats very seriously.

The former chaplain apologised to his nephew in court saying he never meant it to happen like this.

Defence Counsel Tom Creed pleaded for leniency saying his client had never intended this and that his actions had turned into a roller coaster. “Kelleher lost a job he loved dearly, his life’s work. He now has this criminal conviction, a man who had an impeccable character over the years”.

Judg Sean O’Donnabhain said that he had never come across a case like this before and that he had to take a stand against “fellows who get cowards to go out onto the streets to threaten people”. The judge said it was appalling behaviour from someone who was then a professed priest.

Judge O’Donnabhain accepted that Kelleher is a lonely old man who is remorseful and unlikely to re offend but that doesn’t change the the torment that Niall Kelleher went through, having to check under his car every morning before work, to keep his job and keep his family safe.

Francis Kelleher was sentenced to four years in prison.

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