September 2004

Pervert priest jailed

A PAEDOPHILE priest from a church in Ruislip who persistently sexually abused two young brothers, was caged for four years on Tuesday.

William Hofton, 49, sobbed in the dock as the court heard how he told police he loved the boys very dearly.

The former teacher met the boys while he was a priest at the Sacred Heart Church in Ruislip, and abused the boys in their own home after winning the trust of their family.

Police began an investigation after the eldest brother came forward to tell of the abuse late last year. Prosecutor Peter Zinner told Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court: “He befriended the family and was considered by the congregation and the church generally as a lively, infectious and friendly character to whom the congregation warmed very rapidly.

“However, in that position of trust William Hofton decided that he would take a fancy sexually to both boys and embarked upon a sustained period of grooming. They were showered with gifts, taken on trips and paid a lot of personal attention and given a lot of praise perhaps missing from their own life.”

Mr Zinner said abuse of the older boy took place in the boy’s home, Hofton’s church lodgings, on trips and outings and at least twice in church.

They also showered together and he repeatedly forced his victim to perform sexual acts in his room.

Hofton also sexually harassed’ the boy’s younger brother as well as kissing and touching him on the leg, the court heard.

Both boys, who are now adults and leading successful lives had been caused anger and distress’ by the events. The oldest is still receiving monthly counselling.

Jailing Hofton, of Poor Clare Monastery, Galley Lane, Arkley, Barnet, Judge Fabyan Evans told him: “You were in a position of trust not only to your church but to the families of the boys entrusted to your care.

“You indulged in grooming which led to substantial and serious offences committed on one victim and could have led to far greater offending than in fact occurred on the other.”

Hofton was jailed for four years concurrent on seven charges of indecent assault against the older boy and 18 months concurrent on two counts of indecent assault against the younger.

He was also jailed for two years concurrent on seven charges of gross indecency against the first boy.

Hofton will have to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life.