A predatory paedophile priest who sexually abused young boys over a period spanning several decades has been jailed.

Father Eugene Fitzpatrick, 68, was sentenced to 22 years behind bars and placed on the sex offenders register for life after being found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault, four counts of indecency with a child, and two counts of buggery, all committed between the 1960s and 1990s.

Fitzpatrick, of Raymond Lane, Canterbury, was parish priest at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Harpenden from 1995 until 2001.

Detectives are appealing for additional victims to come forward after Fitzpatrick was sentenced following a trial at Blackfriars Crown Court last month.

Detective Constables Lorraine Simpson and Klementina Balint, who investigated the case, said: "Eugene Fitzpatrick is a predatory sex offender who abused his position of trust, preying on vulnerable youngsters and subjecting them to horrific sexual abuse over a period of years.

"In addition to the two known victims in this case, we believe that there may be additional survivors of Fitzpatrick’s actions who continue to suffer in silence. I urge anyone who has been abused by Eugene Fitzpatrick to contact police without delay.

"Specially trained officers will support victims throughout the investigative process and there are a number of additional support pathways that we are able to signpost."

The indecent assault and indecency offences were committed against one victim in the Islington area. The buggery offences were committed against a second victim at Our Lady St Joseph’s Catholic Church in Hackney.

Alison Millar, abuse lawyer at solicitors Leigh Day, said: “The offences of which Father Eugene has been convicted are horrific and represent the gravest breach of trust. The survivors of this appalling abuse are to be commended for their courage in coming forward and giving evidence.  

“This case shows that it is still possible to secure convictions many years after the offending took place and that investigation of non-recent child abuse offences should remain a police priority."  

The Diocese of Westminster said it had cooperated with the police throughout their investigations, and added that Fitzpatrick was withdrawn from the ministry in 2006.

In a statement, it said: “The Diocese of Westminster is deeply sorry for the hurt that Fitzpatrick caused to his victims, their families and the wider community, and acknowledges the gravity of the abuse he inflicted as is reflected in the severity of the sentence.

“The Diocese of Westminster is committed to the safeguarding of all children and vulnerable adults in its care.”

Anyone who thinks they are a victim of Eugene Fitzpatrick is asked to contact the Met’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command by dialling 101.