Disgraced Kiwi priest dies suddenly in Sydney

A disgraced former Catholic priest from Hamilton has died suddenly in Australia.

An obituary notice published in the New Zealand Herald said James Joseph Cunneen "suffered a heart attack and passed away suddenly" in the intensive care unit at Blacktown Hospital in Sydney.

He died on December 28 last year.

The 60-year-old was awaiting sentencing for sexual abuse against boys, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Cunneen was ordained as a priest in New Zealand in 1979 and left the church in 1997.

Sydney detectives first received a referral from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.

Cunneen was arrested at his Hamilton home in 2017 and extradited to Australia.

Late last year he was convicted of 10 counts of sexual and indecent assault against six boys, The Daily Telegraph reported.

He was supposed to be sentenced at the Downing Centre District Court on February 14.

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