A 71-year-old priest has been given a five-year suspended sentence for indecently assaulting four boys.

Ronald Bennett of Dún Mhuire, Seafield Road, Killiney in Co Dublin is a former spiritual adviser and games master at Gormanston College in Co Meath. 

He pleaded guilty to six sample charges of indecent assault on dates from 1974 to 1981.

The victims were all teenage pupils of the school - three were boarders and one was a day pupil.  

The court heard they were called over the public address system to go to Bennett's room on the pretext of being given sex education.

Judge Desmond Hogan said Bennett had perpetrated a serious breach of trust on the injured parties, on their parents and on his order.  

He said the offences were extremely serious. 

But he said within the context of very serious offences, these offences were at the lower end of the scale.      

He said the offences had happened 20 years ago and there had been no reoccurrence since.   

Also, the judge said the Granada Institute, which deals with sex offenders, had said Bennett was at a low risk of re-offending.  

Judge Hogan said he was living quietly with his order and was adhering to a code of practice which the order had put in place for him.

In all these circumstances, he said he had decided not to impose a custodial sentence provided Bennett complied with a number of conditions.  

He was ordered to enter into a bond in the sum of €1,000 to keep the peace for five years, he must strictly adhere to his order's code of practice and if considered necessary he must continue therapy with the Granada Institute.