A KINDLY Catholic priest molested a schoolboy who came to confess in his office, a court heard.

Father Gerald Stanislaus Hobbs, known as Father Stan to pupils at St Benedict's public school in Ealing, is accused of forcing himself on the young boy, who was 12 or 13 at the time, more than 20 years ago.

The victim, who now works as a journalist, told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court on Monday: "I remember kneeling down in the room and I remember him lifting up his robes.

"He had his hand on my head and he forced it down. I have a strong memory and I have had flashbacks."

The court heard that after the boy was assaulted the priest gave him a medal that was hanging on the back of his door.

Hobbs, 77, who also taught at the school where Julian Clary and last governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten were educated, was also questioned by police over an incident while on a school trip in Italy with the same boy.

Describing the Italian incident', for which Hobbs cannot be prosecuted in this country, the victim said: "It has never felt right.

"I have given it a lot of thought as I have grown up. I am not totally sure about what he did."

It was not until the victim, now in his 30s, went to a hypnotherapist while he was abroad with his work that the abuse came to light, the jury heard.

In March 2005 he went to the Westminster Diocese's child protection officer, Peter Turner, who went to the police.

Asked why he had never said anything, he told the court: "One of the reasons I never told anyone was that Father Stan was thought of as this lovely priest who loved all the children and was very kind to all the children and was certainly never thought of as someone who would do anything to children.

"He was always very kind and very good to us.

"I was very fond of him. He was very kind to me and very kind to my mother and he was very well-liked and is still very well-liked."

Hobbs agreed with police when they questioned him last year over the incident in Italy but denies one charge of indecently assaulting the boy between January 1985 and December 1986.

Prosecutor Christopher Amor said: "He was asked about his sexuality - what sexually turns him on. Was it women? No. Men? No. Children? It could be. In what way? A nice face. So if you are sexually turned on it is by children? Normally, yes.

"He went on to make it clear it was boys he was talking about."

The trial, expected to last a week, continues.