Two sex abuse victims of former priest Mark Mannix Brown say his jail sentence brings them closure but say anything less would have belittled his actions.

It is now the second prison term Brown, 74, will have served for molesting young boys while he worked as a priest in the Catholic Church around Hamilton and Auckland in the 1970s and 80s.

Brown pleaded guilty to four representative charges after a sentence indication in the Hamilton District Court in May this year.

Today, Judge Simon Menzies sentenced Brown to 26 months' jail.


He was first jailed for 15 months in March 1990 for indecently assaulting two altar boys in the 1980s when he was at St Mary's Church, Hamilton.

The latest offending involved a 9-year-old altar boy, a 16-year-old whose dad had died and mother was dying of cancer, and a 6-year-old orphan.

All three of them, Brown took advantage of. Two were living in an Auckland orphanage, another was at home with family but attended the same church where Brown was a priest in Hamilton.

The 9-year-old altar boy, [victim 3], is now 43 years old and was the only one able to get up in front of the court and detail how Brown's offending had destroyed his life. The now adult 16-year-old [victim 2] was in court and submitted a victim impact statement while the third decided not to attend.

Victim 3 told the Herald he didn't want to go back to church after the offending. He purposefully began making mistakes and would get told off but each week his parents would send him back.

Soon, he began assaulting his parents. An ambulance would come, but the incidents were never passed on to police. He then began committing crime before running away from home, to live under a bridge with no money and no food.

He couldn't hold down a relationship and put on weight to make himself unattractive to the opposite sex.

But it took yet another stint behind bars - for offending which eventually escalated to armed robbery - when he unsuccessfully tried to kill himself that he knew he had to do something.


On release five years ago, he approached the Catholic Church but says he was constantly mucked around. In the end, he went to police. After making his complaint he was phoned within minutes of leaving to say they'd also had others come forward.

Today, he said he would leave the Hamilton District Court with a spring in his step, finally able to move on.

He said he had since repaired his relationship with his father - his mother died before she could find out the truth - but he had a job and was renting a house.

He said he was too scared to tell his father the truth when he was a child because he thought no one would believe him and he would get a beating. One of eight siblings, there were too many mouths to feed so to get a free meal at church was appreciated by families.

"I'm alive today ... I had no substance before but now [the jail term] makes me hold my head up."

Victim 2 - the 16-year-old - told the Herald he had also spent his life in and out of jail.

When he was young he also wanted to become a priest. But being a Catholic, talking about sex was a taboo topic.

"You never talked about sex and I wanted to become a priest so I didn't know about sex, you know."

He said he grew up "an angry man" and was still paying for it now in terms of having many convictions. However, he was pleased to see Brown in the dock finally paying for his crimes.

"It's a good bit of closure," he said.


The biggest decision facing Judge Menzies was whether Brown deserved to go back to jail.

Brown's lawyer Mark Sturm argued home detention was more appropriate as he had attended a restorative justice conference with one of the victims, he was now 74 years old and had not offended since leaving jail more than 20 years ago.

Brown had also helped other offenders settle back into the community to "try to make amends for his wrongdoing". He also had the support of his family who he would stay with if he was given home detention.

And although he wasn't justifying his offending, he said Brown had also been the victim of sexual abuse when he was about 9 years old.

"But it can have an impact on a person's own behaviour ... it's not a defence but is something that Your Honour can take into account."

Sturm suggested Judge Menzies offer a further discount of up to 50 per cent.

But Crown prosecutor Louella Dunn said many of those features were already addressed during the sentence indication hearing in which Judge Menzies determined a starting point of three years and six months.

She said Brown only deserved discount for his guilty plea and remorse.

Judge Menzies said the sentencing had "unusual complexities" as there were multiple vulnerable victims who were abused while he was in a position of power, however he hadn't offended in more than 30 years and didn't pose a risk to the community.

He gave further discount for his good behaviour since the 1990s and his age but it still wasn't enough for it to fall within the home detention range of two years.

Brown was jailed for 15 months in March 1990 for indecently assaulting two altar boys in the 1980s.

In June last year a further 11 charges were laid involving three new victims who were abused between 1973 and 1986.

The Crown laid four representative charges of indecent assault on a boy aged 12 to 16, attempted sodomy and indecent assault on a male.

The charges involve three victims who, at the time, ranged in age from 6 to 16.


The youngest victim was aged 6 when he met Brown in 1973.

The boy was an orphan and had been living in an orphanage in Auckland where Brown's sister was a nun.

Brown showed particular affection to the victim, who is now in his 50s, and would visit him under the guise of having one-on-one "spiritual time" with him.

Brown would take the victim into a room and close the door. The abuse involved the victim sitting on Brown's lap and involve kissing before it progressed to skin-on-skin contact.

He told his victim that the sessions were their "special secret" and that if he told anyone he would be separated from his brothers.


His father had already died and his mother was dying of cancer when Brown took the victim into his care in 1983.

He sexually assaulted the teen, aged 16 at the time, on several occasions over a two-year period at Brown's family property in Raglan.

During the night he would get into the victim's bed where the offending occurred and "tell him that he loved him and ask him if he liked it".

The victim didn't tell anyone what was happening because he looked up to Brown as a father figure.


The third victim was 9 and an altar boy at the church where Brown was a priest.

After becoming sick, Brown took him to the "priest building", which contained a toilet where the boy began vomiting.

After rubbing his back Brown put his hands down the boy's pants.

The boy froze, stopped vomiting and looked at Brown before he stopped and continued rubbing his back.


Bill Kilgallon, national director of the National Office of Professional Standards of the Catholic Church NZ, commended detectives for their work on the case.

He said it was all too easy for victims not to bother reporting what had happened to them as a child but seeing offenders like Brown jailed encouraged them to come forward, which he praised them for.

"It's people like [victims] that have brought this to [police] attention and it's because of their courage that we're able to sort this out. It's a very hard thing to talk about."