September 2013

Paedophile vicar has sentenced increased after admitting more abuse

A DISGRACED vicar has had five years added to his jail sentence after he admitted having sex with two more vulnerable young boys.

Peter Hedge, 51, was locked up for 14 years in 2009 after a jury found him guilty of raping and sexually abusing six youngsters. But Judge Peter Benson yesterday extended that sentence after the Oxford University graduate admitted offences against two other boys.

Sophie Drake, prosecuting, told Bradford Crown Court that one of two new complainants had been interviewed during the initial police inquiry, but denied anything had happened as he wanted to get on with his life. However, in 2011 he contacted police and revealed how Hedge had sexually abused him on three occasions.

At the time the abuse began in the 1990s, Hedge was the curate of St Margaret’s Church, Thornbury, Bradford, but he continued to target youngsters after becoming the vicar at Holy Trinity Church, Queensbury.

He used cannabis and alcohol to corrupt his victims and when one of the latest complainants was 15 he was given £200 to “keep quiet” about the repeated abuse.

Miss Drake said another man came forward last year and alleged Hedge repeatedly abused him. She said the complainant had become addicted to cannabis after being introduced to the drug by Hedge.

Hedge pleaded guilty in June to charges of buggery, indecent assault and indecency with a child in relation to one of the new complainants and yesterday admitted offences of rape, indecency with a child and indecent assault in respect of the second victim.

Jailing him for an extra five years, Judge Benson said: “The parents of those boys trusted you to care for their children and keep them safe and indeed set an example of Christian conduct. Instead of that you abused that trust in the most dreadful ways imaginable.”

Hedge is subject to an indefinite sexual offences prevention order and will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

October 2009

Vicar who raped young boys jailed

A West Yorkshire vicar has been jailed for 14 years after being found guilty of raping two young boys and sexually attacking others.

The Reverend Peter Hedge, 47, of Chatsworth Road ,Pudsey, from Holy Trinity Church at Queensbury, near Bradford, had denied the attacks, which happened between the 1990s and 2000.

A jury at Bradford Crown Court found him guilty of more than 30 indecent assaults as well as the rapes.

A judge said he was a “dreadful disgrace” to the church.

Hedge was also found guilty of another serious sexual assault.

Hedge, who was born in Rotherham and won a scholarship to Oxford University to read chemistry, was ordained in 1993. His first post was curate at St Margaret’s.

Boys visited him at his home in Upper Rushton Road, Thornbury, and, after he became vicar of Holy Trinity in 1997, at his address in Russell Hall Lane, Queensbury.

‘Deeply damaged’

The court heard the vicar abused his position of trust to gratify himself sexually with six boys and then paid them to keep silent.

The judge described Hedge’s actions as “calculated and systematic abuse”.

“He corrupted three of the boys with cannabis, his wickedness defied description,” he said.

“You [Hedge] scarred and blighted the lives of young boys who trusted you as a pastor and friend.”

Hedge was made subject to a sexual offences protection order and also put on the sex offenders register for life.

Det Sgt Linda Christie, from West Yorkshire Police’s child and public protection unit, said: “We are pleased with today’s verdict and hope it brings some closure to the victims of Peter Hedge.

“He abused his position of trust as a vicar and committed horrendous acts of abuse against vulnerable boys who trusted him.”

The Bishop of Bradford, the Right Reverend David James, said in a statement: “Clergy in the Church of England are expected to uphold the highest moral standards.

“By committing these very serious crimes, Peter Hedge has betrayed the trust put in him by the people of Thornbury and Queensbury.

Despite his arrest in 1997 for an allegation that he groped a boy at his home, he continued to abuse young men.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims who have been deeply damaged by someone who should have been nurturing them and keeping them safe.

“And I thank them for their courage in coming forward to give evidence.”