Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cronin priest warning to parish

Parishioners at a Roman Catholic church in the Borders have been warned about a notorious sex attacker who has claimed to be their priest.

John Cronin is thought to be in Ireland, where police are hunting him over alleged cheque fraud.

A notice at SS Mary and David's Parish Church in Hawick has warned that he has masqueraded as their priest.

Cronin was jailed for attacking and sexually abusing a Conservative Party worker at her Edinburgh home in 1992.

He was described at the time by a judge as "Walter Mitty gone mad".

He had duped the woman into letting him into her home by dressing as a priest - a disguise he has adopted before and since - before attacking her and battering her with a fireside poker.

Cronin's life prison term was reduced to six years on appeal.

He has since been jailed for offences including bank robbery, fraud and harassing female politicians, in both Britain and Ireland.

Now a notice about him has been placed at the Borders church.

"Please be aware that a John Cronin is in Ireland pretending to be the parish priest of Hawick," it said.

"If you hear of someone claiming to be a Catholic priest and asking for help, etc, please be vigilant.

"The police in Scotland and Ireland are aware of the situation."

According to Lothian and Borders Police the warning dates back several weeks and they stressed that Cronin was not in the Hawick area.

They said their colleagues in Ireland have not asked for assistance - but they do work closely in such cases.

It is now thought the Gardaí are pursuing Cronin for presenting forged cheques in various locations across Ireland.

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