A former Irish priest, considered one of the greatest paedophiles in the Catholic Church for admitting rape and sexual abuse to more than 20 children in the 1970s and 1980s, has been detained in the Algarve.

The person widely reported in the media as 74-year-old Oliver O’Grady was being sought by the Irish authorities on suspicion of child pornography. Since late 2018, O “Grady lived in Loulé, in the Algarve hills, where he fled after a recurring crime. On Monday, he was located by inspectors from the Criminal Investigation Unit of the Judicial Police, who complied with the European Arrest Warrant.

O’Grady has a long history of sexual offenses against minors. In 1993, when he was a priest in California, USA, he was sentenced to 14 years in jail for crimes of sexual abuse. He served about half and was deported to Ireland. Then he moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Despite his registration and not working in the Church, he worked as a volunteer in a parish of Rotterdam, where he organized children’s parties.

But the scale of O’Grady’s crimes was even greater and was not known until 2006, when the convicted paedophile admitted to having raped and abused more than 20 children in the documentary “Deliver us from evil”, which reported the crimes and the way the Church handled the case. It didn’t stop anyway. In 2010, he was again arrested. A computer was left on a plane and police found more than 280,000 images, six hours of videos and 500 pages of discussion about child pornography. He was sentenced to three years in jail.

In 2016, journalists found him living in Dublin, near a playground and schools. At the time, he said he avoided leaving when children were on the street and admitted, “Maybe I’m better off in a more secluded area.” The Irish authorities have kept an eye on him and believe he has relapsed.

Portugal’s Policia Judiciaria confirmed they arrested him on Monday.

They added: “The Irish national was wanted by the Irish authorities on suspicion of a crime of child pornography.

“He has been remanded in prison after a court appearance pending his handover to the Irish authorities.”