March 2003

Ten years for sex abuse vicar

A priest found guilty of 12 charges of sexual abusing two young boys is starting a 10-year jail term.

Canon Lawrence Davies – who had been the most senior Church in Wales clergyman in Cardiff – was found guilty of the sexual assault and serious sexual assault charges on Thursday.

Davies, who was canon at St Paul’s Church in Grangetown for 25 years, had denied all the charges throughout the three-week Cardiff Crown Court trial.

One of the victims of the abuse was only 12 when the assaults began.

Davies, 62, was also cleared of one charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Sentencing, Judge Christopher Llewellyn QC said: “”It is perhaps difficult to imagine a graver breach of trust than for a priest to sexually abuse two young members of his flock.

“This type of behaviour just cannot be tolerated in a civilised society.

“You have not shown the slightest remorse. It is a very sad task for a judge to have to sentence a man who on the one hand has devoted much of his life to the welfare of his parishioners.

“On the other hand, there was a darker side to your life and two young boys were corrupted by you for your own sexual satisfaction.”

There were shouts from the public gallery as Davies was led away from relatives of the abused.

One said: “God will never forgive you”, while others shouted “scum”, and “Satan’s helper”.

The judge recommended that Davies serve at least half of his sentence before being eligible for patrol, and ordered him to register as a sex offender on release.

Davies, who will never be able to serve as an Anglican priest again, will also face a disciplinary hearing within the Church in Wales in which he will find out if he will be defrocked.

Shortly after the guilty verdict, the Bishop of Llandaff, Dr Barry Morgan said it had been “an awful case of abuse over a long period of time”.

“All I can say on behalf of the church to these young men is I am terribly sorry,” he said.

One of Davies’ victims, who cannot be named, said he did not “know whether to feel elated or sad”.

“I feel that righteous justice has been served – I don’t hate him – I feel sorry for him, but I am glad he can’t do this to anyone else,” he added.

‘Psychologically controlled’

The trial heard the abuse began after Davies was appointed to the post of vicar in the early 1970s.

His two victims went on to become priests in the Anglican church.

Davies, who admitting watching porn videos, also admitted lying to police about having a girlfriend.

He said he had made up a story because he feared the police would think he was a homosexual.

Earlier in the trial, he was cleared – on the instruction of Judge Christopher Llewellyn-Jones QC – of one charge of sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy.

One of Davies’ parishoners could not believe the guilty verdict.

“He will do anything for anybody – nobody could ask for a better parish priest,” said Pam Propert.