HUNTER paedophile priest Vince Ryan left jail for the first time in more than 14 years yesterday - a jacket hood over his head, an arm across his face, and a satellite device strapped to his body monitoring his every move.
Ryan, 72, said nothing as a NSW Corrective Services car slowed to clear the Long Bay Jail gates at noon, and drove off to take the former Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese priest to a halfway house for newly released long-term jail inmates.
The waiting media did not get to ask Ryan questions about how he felt to be released after serving his sentence, or if he had anything to say to his 35 known victims and their families.
"That seems to be it then," a Corrective Services media spokesman said as the car turned onto Anzac Parade outside the jail.
In an earlier interview Maitland-Newcastle Bishop Michael Malone, who visited Ryan in jail, said the former priest had frequently expressed remorse for his crimes against boys aged six to 14 between 1972 and 1991.
Ryan will not be returning to the Hunter under the terms of a memorandum of understanding with the Bishop, and will never practise as a priest again after having his faculties removed.
The Corrective Services spokesman said Ryan was one of 30 convicted sex offenders tracked 24 hours a day via a satellite device. He is on parole for the next four years.
A woman whose son committed suicide before police could confirm he was one of Ryan’s victims said she was ‘‘pretty numb’’ yesterday at the former priest’s release.
‘‘You can’t change what’s happened but I don’t think the Catholic Church will ever recover from what they’ve done to children,’’ she said.
Maitland-Newcastle Diocese paid more than $6million to some of Ryan’s victims after proof that at least one member of clergy, the late Monsignor Patrick Cotter, knew of his offending and ‘‘decided to say nothing’’.
Ryan was sent to Melbourne in 1975 for ‘‘treatment’’ but he wrote a different story for the Manning Valley parish newsletter on his appointment in 1995, one year before he was charged.
The Melbourne year was to ‘‘take a sabbatical’’, mix with clergy and lay people and ‘‘do things you’ve never done before, like going to continental movie houses to expand your mind’’, he said.
‘‘I took on racing in a big way. It was the first time I’d ever gone to a racecourse. It was incredible. It was a great year.’’
Ryan returned to Maitland-Newcastle Diocese in 1976. He was charged with sexually assaulting at least 25 more children after that date.