A PAEDOPHILE priest who was jailed for nine years on sexual abuse charges has had 12 months cut from his sentence after winning a legal challenge.

Father Paul Moore,82, subjected three children and a student cleric to a series of terrifying assaults at various locations in Ayrshire between 1977 and 1996.

He abused one boy at a school, another at a leisure centre and a third on the beach at Irvine in the 1970s.

Moore also indecently assaulted a trainee priest in the 1990s. 

Judge Lady Rae jailed Moore at the High Court in Glasgow earlier this year saying he was guilty of despicable crimes and a gross breach of trust. 

However, at a hearing at the Criminal Court of Appeal, lawyers for Moore successfully argued that their client should have been acquitted of the assault on the student priest. 

They argued that the nature of the assault on the trainee was different in nature from the assault on the children and the crime took place 20 years after the first set of offences. 

Moore’s legal team argued that the law surrounding sexual assault convictions in Scotland meant that Moore shouldn’t have been convicted of the assault on his colleague.

They said that the length of time between the assaults and their different nature meant that the abuse against the trainee couldn’t be corroborated with the 1970s abuse. 

Appeal judges Lady Dorrian, Lord Brodie and Lord Turnbull agreed with the legal arguments and quashed the conviction for assaulting the student priest. 

The judges then reduced Moore’s sentence to eight years. 

Lady Dorrian said: “The appeal must succeed.”

At proceedings earlier this year, Lady Rae said Moore’s victims had shown considerable courage in coming forward. 

The youngest was just five when the priest abused him in his primary school. 

The court heard that the priest groomed some of his victims by taking them swimming or out for meals before sexually abusing them. 

In 1995, Moore sexually abused a trainee priest. 

Bishop Maurice Taylor,91, gave evidence in the trial and told the court Moore admitted he had “an attraction to young boys” and had a “desire to abuse minors”.

The bishop sent him to a treatment centre in Toronto and to Fort Augustus Abbey in the highlands. 
Moore was removed from the pastoral ministry after his admission but continued to live in a house purchased by the church. 

The priest, who was identified in court as Francis Moore but was known as Father Paul, was found guilty after a trial at the High Court in Glasgow. 

Following proceedings, the Catholic Church in Scotland said it wished to “sincerely renew” its apologies to victims. 

On Thursday, lawyers for Moore argued that Lady Rae interpreted the law incorrectly when she refused to dismiss the 1990s charge. 

They said the law stated that the time between the first set of assaults and the 1995 allegation meant they were too far part to be considered one course of conduct. 

They also stated that the abuse of the priest was different in nature as he was an adult. 
The abuse from the 1970s was against children and this meant it also couldn’t be considered as being part of the same course of conduct.  

The appeal judges agreed. Moore was then returned to prison.