Jailed priest abused children in Cornwall and Devon

Jailed priest abused children in Cornwall and Devon

Jailed priest abused children in Cornwall and Devon

First published in Truro
Last updated

A priest jailed in Sussex for a string of sexual offences against children, abused young boys in Cornwall and Devon.

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, appeared at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday, February 14, and was sentenced to a total of eight years for sexual offences against young boys.

These were in West Sussex, Devon, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight.

The court heard he had told senior clergy, including the Bishop Of Lewis, Wallace Benn, that he had sexually abused one of the children but this was not passed on to police.

He had been awaiting trial due to commence on 10 June over seven alleged offences of sexual assault between 1982 and 1984 and between 1978 and 1979.

Coles had pleaded not guilty to all these offences.

At a hearing on 14 December last year at Chichester Crown Court, Coles had pleaded guilty to 11 offences during the same respective periods.

At yesterday's hearing, prosecutor Ryan Richter advised the court that after consideration, including consultation with Sussex Police and the three victims, the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed with the seven outstanding charges.

Judge Anthony directed that the seven charges would lay on the court file.

Coles was sentenced to a total of eight years imprisonment on Thursday for the 11 offences to which he had pleaded guilty in December.

Coles was also served with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) prohibiting him from any contact with the three victims, from having any unsupervised contact with boys under 16, and from seeking any employment or voluntary work which would involve unsupervised access to children under 16. He was also required to register as a sex offender for life on his release from prison.

He had been arrested on 6 March last year following a six month enquiry by Sussex Police detectives, and was charged in August 2012 on the authority of the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service with whom we have worked very closely in this investigation and prosecution.

None of the charges related to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise that there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk.

 

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