Fr Boland says he looks forward to returning to his ministry

A Catholic priest who had been on trial for indecent assaults on a 14-year-old girl was found not guilty of all charges at Derry Crown Court today.

Fr. Eugene Boland (66), of Parochial House, Killyclogher Road, Omagh, had denied five charges of indecently assaulting the 14-year-old girl between June 28, 1990 and June 30, 1992.

The offences were alleged to have occurred while the teenager volunteered at a Parochial House in the Galliagh area of the city.

However, after a trial lasting more than a week the jury returned a majority verdict of not guilty on all charges.

The jury's deliberations had lasted almost four and a half hours.

Fr. Boland showed no emotion when the verdict was delivered but outside the court he hugged friends and family.

Afterwards the priest issued a statement through his solicitor Mr. Kevin McGuigan.

In that statement the priest said: "An allegation first made two years ago has had a devastating impact upon my life. "The events of the past two years culminating in the trial which ended today with my acquittal on all charges have been traumatic.

"My reputation and character have been impugned by the allegation and the widespread coverage has received in the press and media."

Fr. Boland said he wished to thank the jury for 'bringing this nightmare to an end' and he added: "I am grateful that the suspicion and gossip which this allegation hasd provoked will now cease."

The priest went on then to thank his family and friends and his fellow priests including ministers from other denominations who had attended throughout the trial.

He then went on to thank the parishioners of Cappagh where he is now based and his former parishioners for their 'constant support;.'

Fr. Boland concluded by thanking his legal team and then added: "As a result of this allegation I have had to step back from my ministry as a priest.

"I have been a priest for 42 years and look forward to returning to my ministry as soon as ;possible with my reputation and good name restored."

Fr. Boland left without speaking to the press.