A MAN who was abused by a priest more than 40 years ago has said that victims of child abuse should not have to take their torment to the grave.

Luke Holland, 54, has waived his legal right to remain anonymous as a victim of sexual abuse, in the hope that he may be able to help other people who have suffered the same.

He told the Times it's never too late for victims to come forward.

Luke was abused by Father John Coghlan from Sacred Heart Church in Ruislip Manor more than 40 years ago. Coghlan is now serving 18 months in prison after being found guilty of the abuse which started on Luke when he was just ten years old.

Luke said: "I had never told anyone about what happened to me until almost two years ago.

"If ever it came into my head and I couldn't get rid of it, then I would block it out in other ways. I would get out of my head. I took drugs, drank, anything to make me forget about it.

"But then I read an article about another man who had been abused in various Catholic children's homes, and it helped me a little."

Not long after reading the article, Luke's mother was taken very ill, and at the hospital, she asked for a priest.

Luke said: "I just went mad, I broke down. I couldn't bear the thought of a priest coming to see my mum. It just triggered something and I snapped."

Luke's sister tried to calm him down at the hospital, and eventually he broke down and told her all about his abuse.

Luke said: "My sister persuaded me to go to the police and tell them."

Luke went to the child protection team at Northwood, who he says were wonderful, in particular officer Nick Strivens, who was put in charge of the case.

He said: "I couldn't have done it without him. Initially it was very hard going over all the details with police, and it was draining, but the team were wonderful and helped me so much."

Luke, who had been a choir boy and an altar boy, says he remembers the abuse happening in Coghlan's office, and away on scout camp, but says it was so hard to confront.

He said: "I just had to do it. The police helped me, and made me realise I had done nothing wrong, but the guilt was almost too much.

"I kept thinking, what if I had told someone before, I may have stopped it happening to another kid. But the police made me realise that there was nothing I could have done.

"I was just a kid myself."

Luke says the court cases were very traumatic, and he didn't want to see Coghlan in the court. He said: "I just detached myself from it. It's the only way I could cope. All the time I had two policemen standing next to me and they kept asking me if I was alright."

The Court found that Luke was sexually abused between the ages of ten and 15 by Father Coghlan in his role of Catholic Priest of Sacred Heart Church, Ruislip Manor, Chaplain to Douay Martyrs, RC school in Ickenham, and Scout Leader for 5th Ruislip Scouts attached to Sacred Heart Church.

The abuse happened in the Presbytery attached to the Church, as well as on Scout camp. Coghlan was convicted of five counts of indecency with a child between 1961 and 1966, and sentenced to 18 months in jail.

Luke said: "I felt euphoria after he was convicted. It won't give me back my life, but it is starting to help me."

He added: "I want to say to any other victims of child abuse, it doesn't matter how long ago it was, it is never too late. Why should you have to go to your grave with this?

"I am entitled to have those last years to live in peace, as much as I can."

The legal team representing Luke is appealing for witnesses for to come forward who knew Father Coghlan.

It does not matter that they did not witness any abuse, any information at all will assist.

An allegation of liability and a claim for compensation has been made through the Courts against the Catholic Church, and the Scout association.

Peter Garsden, of Abney Garsden McDonald Solicitors said: "These incidents happened so long ago that we are anxious to contact anybody who remembers Father Coghlan. We are trying to piece together what happened, and any information will be useful to us."

Any information should be sent to Paul Durkin at Abney Garsden McDonald, 37 Station Road, Cheadle Hulme, Cheshire. Call 0161 482 8822, or email: pauld@abneys.co.uk Alternatively, if anyone wants to talk to Luke, they can get in touch with him through the Hillingdon Times 01494 755112