A priest who made a boy take off his clothes while playing strip poker in Italy has been spared jail.

Stephen Motroni was told to complete 120 of hours of community service and was placed under supervision as a registered sex offender for three years.

The 64-year-old had been found guilty of lewd, indecent, and libidinous behaviour.

Motroni, formerly of Smithstone House, Kilwinning, and currently of St John's, Stockport, was found guilty of an amended charge – after an appeal from prosecutors when the case was previously thrown out at trial, over the offence having taken place in Italy.

He appeared for sentencing at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court on Wednesday, April 20.

Defence solicitor Gerard Brown told Sheriff Michael Hanlon: "Your lordship in this case found the accused not guilty in respect to charge two and found guilty in respect to charge one.

"He is 64 years of age; he has no previous convictions and no outstanding cases.

"Your lordship heard evidence and made the finding, however it's his position there was no sexual motivation.

"As the result of this process, his health has suffered with anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

"He doesn't have any current connection to any individuals under 16 years of age. There is no historic communication with children of that sort."

Mr Brown said Motroni was happy to comply with any community-based order, and had a blameless history where he had tried to do good.

Sheriff Hanlon told Motroni: "You were convicted of lewd indecent, and libidinous practices towards the complainer while playing strip poker.

"The evidence from the complainer made it clear that this has had a lasting effect on them. I thank them for giving evidence under the circumstances.

"The offence which was committed was a severe breach of trust in your position in the community, and you took advantage of the situation.

"I will take account that you are a first offender and that it took place some time ago."

Motroni was placed on a community payback order with three years of social work supervision and 120 hours of unpaid work.

He will also be registered as a sex offender with the police for three years, and must take part in the Moving Forward, Making Changes programme.

We previously reported how the case was originally thrown out at trial after it was argued that the Scottish courts did not have jurisdiction over offences having taken place in Italy.

But prosecutors at the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) successfully appealed against that decision at the High Court.

After hearing several days of evidence in 2020, Sheriff Michael Hanlon decided he did not have jurisdiction to hear the Italian charges, and acquitted Motroni of all other offences.

However, the COPFS successfully challenged the original acquittal verdict, arguing that the trial sheriff had retrospective jurisdiction over the incidents in Italy under the amended Criminal Law (Consolidation) (Scotland) Act 1995.

Motroni was found guilty of an amended charge last month [March 9] and was found not guilty of a second charge.

The complaint states he induced the boy, who was then aged between five and 13, to remove his clothing between April 12, 1992 and April 11, 2001 in Italy.

Motroni was educated at St Peter’s Primary School, Ardrossan, St Michael’s Academy, Kilwinning, the Sacred Heart Fathers’ Noviciate College in Gateshead, Ushaw College, Durham and Durham University.

He was ordained as a priest of the Congrégation du Sacré-Coeur (Congregation of the Sacred Heart) at the Church of Our Lady, Star of the Sea, Saltcoats on June 4, 1983.

He served with the Sacred Heart Fathers in Dublin, Ireland until 1985 then did retreat work in Cheshire till 1989.

He resumed his studies in Rome till 1991 after which he returned to Gateshead for a year.

Motroni moved to the Sacred Heart Fathers’ home in Smithstone House, Kilwinning in 1992 and remained there for three years.

He also worked in England and Dublin until 2003, when he returned to Kilwinning as a Sacred Heart Father as well as working for the Diocese of Galloway.