A former hospital chaplain who attended courses run by the Catholic Church in child protection measures has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Fr Michael Molloy from Cavan pleaded guilty to two sample charges of defilement of a child and one of possession of child pornography.

Cavan Circuit Criminal Court was told that shortly after attending the child protection course he began abusing the son of a friend.

The priest was working as a chaplain at a hospital when he was arrested two years ago although though the offences did not take place there. He was immediately suspended from active ministry by the Church.

Sgt Kevin Gavigantold the court that the abuse came to light when the victim's mother came across sexually explicit text messages on her son's phone from Fr Molloy.

Fr Michael Molloy initially denied the abuse which took the form of oral sex. In later statements the priest claimed the boy who was 14 at the time that the abuse started, had initiated the sexual contact.

However, the priest later pleaded guilty to two counts of defilement of a child as well as possession of child pornography in Cavan between September 2006 and April 2007.

The court heard that a photograph of the victim engaging in a sexual act with the priest had been found on the defendant's phone.

The defence said that Fr Molloy was himself the victim of abuse as a child and he was under particular stress at the time of the offences.

Judge John O'Hagan said the defendant had broken the trust placed in him by his victim and family as well as the trust of the many other priests who continue to minister.

He sentenced Father Michael Molloy to five years imprisonment and placed him on the sex offender's register.