Alan John Woodcock
NZ Herald story 25th June 2004
Paedophile former Marist priest Alan Woodcock was jailed for seven years today on 21 child sex offences. Woodcock, 56, formerly of Upper Hutt, was extradited from Britain and last month pleaded guilty in Wellington District Court to 21 charges relating to the abuse of 11 boys between 1978 and 1987 when he was teaching at St John's College, Hastings; St Patrick's College Silverstream; Highden, a school for young priests in Palmerston North; and Futuna, a Catholic retreat in Wellington. He had lived in Britain since the late 1980s until ordered to return to New Zealand by a High Court ruling.
Today, Judge Bridget Mackintosh sentenced Woodcock, saying that his offending was an "appalling" breach of trust given that not only was he a priest, he was also a teacher and a counsellor. Aggravating factors were the number of victims involved, their ages, the fact that Woodcock groomed his victims for abuse, the repetitive nature of the offending and the long period involved, the judge said. The effect of the offending had "serious and tragic" results on his victims. She noted the emotional trauma they had suffered and described how one boy became sexually promiscuous, to try to prove to himself that he was not homosexual after the offending and as a result now suffers from a venereal disease.
Some of the victims had had suicidal tendencies and sexual and other problems. Judge Mackintosh accepted that Woodcock deserved some credit for his early guilty plea. However, this was minimised by the fact he fought extradition to New Zealand. She took into account the more than four months he spent in the notorious Brixton prison where he was assaulted. She also noted that Woodcock had also been the victim of sexual abuse as a youngster. Woodcock's lawyer Greg King told the court that Woodcock was very sorry for what he had done and had not re-offended for many years. In Britain he had become a crack cocaine addict, which he said was related to his guilt over his abusive behaviour.
Mr King said Woodcock had written an affidavit which was being made available to his victims and their families. He read a portion to the court. "I cannot have the gall to ask for forgiveness from them... I don't deserve their forgiveness." Woodcock's affidavit said he hadn't forgiven himself, that he was guilt-wracked and that it was a relief for the case to end up in court. He had contemplated suicide. "But that would be a coward's way out... My only hope is they can take some solace from my pleas of guilty." He hoped the end of the case would provide them some closure and enable healing.
"Like me, they must carry the consequences of what I did to them for life." Court documents showed that while at St Patrick's Silverstream Woodcock made friends with boys, offered cigarettes and enticed them to his bedroom, where he performed indecent acts on them. One victim described Woodcock's sexual appetite as "voracious" and "rampant". After several students complained of abuse, the school advised Woodcock to get a passport. He was later moved to Highden noviciate in Palmerston North and later left the country. After Woodcock's convictions, the Catholic Church vowed it would pass all future abuse allegations directly to police.
Date of Birth
Indecent assault (x11), indecent act on a boy (x3), committing an indecent act on a male (x2), inducing a male to do an indecent act on him (x2) and inducing a boy to do an indecent act (x3), all relating to eleven minors at various schools and church institutions between 1978 and 1987
Was sentenced to 7 years in June 2004
Released August 2009
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OFFENCES / CONVICTIONS
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