John Cronin admits to robbing nuns at convent

John Cronin. Picture: Bill Henry
John Cronin. Picture: Bill Henry
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Serial sex offender and conman John Cronin has confessed to robbing nuns at a convent in Northern Ireland.

Cronin, from East Lothian, is being held in custody after targeting Drumalis Retreat House in Larne, County Antrim.

The 41-year-old, who once posed as a priest to attack a victim, has admitted charges of burglary and fraud by false representation, and making off without paying from the convent last year.

He tricked nuns at the retreat into thinking he was an insurance company boss.

Cronin, who was sentenced to life for attacking Tory party worker Judy X in 1992 after pretending to be a priest, stole £50 from the home, run by the ­Sisters of the Cross and Passion. He also fled without donating cash for food and board during a six-day stay at the centre.

Cronin pled guilty to burglary and theft on 15 February last year. He was arrested a day later and held on remand at Maghaberry Prison until his appearance at Ballymeana Crown Court on Wednesday.

He was further placed on remand for sentencing on 26 March at Antrim Crown Court.

Cronin is understood to be the first convicted criminal in Britain to be tracked by satellite. He was jailed for running up a $20,000 bill and refusing to pay at a top Swedish restaurant.

He gained notoriety for a string of sex offences against women and remains the focus of debate in Scotland over the reporting and handling of sex offenders and how they are dealt with once out of prison.

Cronin was a pupil at several Scottish schools, where he built up a record for repeat offences, from theft to assault.

Shortly after leaving school he committed his first criminal act, sexually assaulting a 14-year-old female classmate for which he served a three-month sentence.

In the early 1990s, he began to pass himself off as a visiting Irish priest, often stealing from those he duped after being given board. He went on to assault Judy X at her home.