James Gardner – Coventry/Pattishall
Posted Northamptonshire, West Midlands
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Paedophile tricked way into Jesus Army Fellowship
An “absolutely relentless paedophile” who infiltrated a Jesus Fellowship community and abused three children has been jailed.
James Gardner, aged 63, was allowed to work at the community house in Pattishall because no criminal record checks were ever carried out.
He was jailed for five years, placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life and will be on licence and liable to recall to prison until 2020.
Gardner, of Mulliner Street, Coventry, had a string of previous child sex convictions before beginning work as a gardener and gravedigger at one of the religious sect’s community homes in 1996.
He had fled Scotland after being convicted of offences against members of a youth football team.
Matthew Lowe, prosecuting, said he preyed on three boys, aged between seven and 10 years old, over a seven-year period.
He would stay over in the cellar, where the boys were taken on the pretext of looking at his dogs, where they were then sexually abused.
The offences only came to light years later when two of his victims had their memories triggered when they revisited the cellar.
They revealed to a Fellowship elder how they were offered sweets and bribes, before being subjected to serious sexual abuse.
After being convicted of sexual and indecent assaults, Judge Charles Wide QC branded Gardner “an absolutely relentless paedophile”.
He added: “You tried to make a new life for yourself but there was anelement of you trying to cover your tracks.
“And when the Jesus Army took you in, they did not know about you and you abused their trust, abused the trust of the children and abused the trust of the parents of those children.
“It is a serious feature of this case that there was not one but three victims over a significant period.
“What you did to them has left its scars in terms of their development and degree of trust.”
Gardner was able to secure work despite his previous convictions, because no criminal records bureau checks were made, although the Jesus Fellowship has confirmed it has now tightened up its procedures.
Matthew Kirk, mitigating, said Gardner, who was found guilty in May, still denies the offences.