THE BISHOP of Chichester has welcomed the sentencing of a priest for historic sex offences against young boys.
Keith Wilkie Denford, 78, was jailed for 18 months for the offences which took place between 19 and 27 years ago.
The priest, from Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham, was sentenced on Thursday, May 9, at Hove Crown Court after being convicted of two indecent assaults on a boy then under 16, in or near Shoreham, and one indecent assault on another boy also aged under 16 and also in or near Shoreham, on dates between June 1987 and January 1990.
He was found not guilty of a third charge of indecent assault against the first boy after a three-week trial, also at hove, on Friday, April 5.
Another man, Michael Mytton, 69, of South Road, East Chiltington, East Sussex, was sentenced to a total of nine months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years.
He was convicted of three counts of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 in the Newick area between 1990 and 1994, but found not guilty of one count of aiding and abetting Denford in the alleged Shoreham indecent assault over which Denford was found not guilty, and was also found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault against the boy in the Newick area.
Speaking after the sentencing, the Right Rev Martin Warner said: “The sentencing today of Wilkie Denford and Michael Mytton is an indication of the seriousness of their crimes and the importance of bringing their actions to light and to justice. That is an outcome that we welcome.
“We would like to place on record our thanks to the police for the way in which they conducted this investigation and supported survivors and their families in the pursuit of truth.
“The crimes committed by Mr Denford and Mr Mytton were not reported to the Diocese of Chichester prior to 2011. Notification of the serious allegations against these two men we had formerly trusted was the result of our working relationship with Sussex Police and the local authority. This indicates the vital importance of an inter-agency approach to safeguarding and a shared determination to make Sussex safe for children and vulnerable adults.
“Over and above that, however, we hope that today will mark a milestone for the survivors who have had to live through this trial. To them we offer an unreserved apology and an assurance that we have heard and we believe the terrible story they have had to tell.”
Detective Constable Lee Scott said; “None of these offences had been reported to us at the times they occurred. When one of the Burgess Hill victims learned in 2011 that Wilkie Denford was still active in the church he contacted us and we began enquiries. The separate victim of Mytton came forward later when he learned of the investigation.
“During the investigation we had full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.
“We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being ready to stand up in court. Sussex Police takes all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously, no matter when they are alleged to have happened. Anyone with such concerns can contact us via 101 and arrange to speak in confidence to experienced detectives.We can also help you to access a range of independent counselling and other support services.”
Both Denford and Mytton were served with Sexual Offence Prevention Order, to last until otherwise directed by the court, severely restricting their access to persons under 16. They must also sign on the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.