Canberra (dpa) - Former Archbishop Philip Wilson, the most senior Catholic official in the world to be convicted of concealing child sexual abuse, has avoided jail after a judge on Tuesday allowed him to serve his 12-month custodial sentence in home detention.
Newcastle Local Court magistrate Robert Stone ordered Wilson to be detained at his sister’s home near Newcastle in New South Wales for at least six months, after which he will be eligible for parole, local media reported.
Wilson showed no emotion when the decision was handed down, according to the news agency Australian Associated Press.
The 67-year-old Catholic cleric was forced to step down as the archbishop of Adelaide last month after calls for his resignation, including from Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
He was convicted in May and later sentenced to 12 months in custody for failing to report to police the repeated sexual abuse of two altar boys by a paedophile priest in the 1970s.
Wilson, who has been diagnosed with the early stages of Alzheimer’s, has launched an appeal against his conviction.
The magistrate said Tuesday given the fact he had previously been of good character, and taking account of his age, mental and physical conditions, a home detention order was an adequate punishment.
Stone accepted Wilson was unlikely to re-offend but had to serve a period of detention to act as a deterrence to others.