May 2013

Former Burgess Hill vicar jailed for sexually abusing boys

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A former priest who used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys has been jailed.

Keith Wilkie Denford, 78, (pictured above) abused the pair over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.

Jailing him at Hove Crown Court, Judge Paul Tain, said that there could be “No greater breach of trust than a man playing the role of a man of God”.

The jury at the two week trial heard that Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham, was the vicar at St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill in the 1980s.

He used his position in the Church of England to groom and abuse the two boys over an 18-month period.

On one occasion he got into a bath with one of the boys while aroused. On another he pressed himself up against a boy intimately with the words: “How nice it is to have a cuddle.”

Denford was jailed for 18 months.

Mytton, (pictured below) the church’s choirmaster was also convicted of three counts of indecent assault relating to a third boy when the victim was in his early teens between 1992 and 1994.

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Judge Tain sentenced Mytton to nine months suspended for two years.

He was also made the subject of a sex offender programme and a two-year supervision order.

Following the sentencing, detective constable Lee Scott, praised the victims for their courage.

He said: “During the investigation we had full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.

“We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being ready to stand up in court.”

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, welcomed the sentencing for the “most abhorrent crimes imaginable”.

He said: “Many people’s lives have been affected by the betrayal of trust manifested in this case as details unfolded during the course of the trail. I want to offer my deep regret as the Diocesan Bishop.

Child sexual abuse is one of the most abhorrent crimes imaginable and an absolute betrayal of the caring and safe environment which the Diocese is committed to providing.”

April 2013

Ex-Church of England priest Keith Wilkie Denford and organist Michael Mytton guilty of string of child abuse offences

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Michael Mytton (pictured above) worked as an organist in the Lewes area

A retired Church of England priest and a former organist and choirmaster have been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse offences dating back more than 25 years.

A judge said that Father Keith Wilkie Denford and Michael Mytton had committed “a grave breach of trust and a gross breach of trust”.

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Father Keith Wilkie Denford (pictured above)

Prosecutors said Denford, 78, used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.

On one occasion he got into a bath with one of the boys while aroused. On another he pressed himself up against a boy intimately with the words: “How nice it is to have a cuddle.”

But Denford, who was the vicar at St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, was found not guilty of abusing one of the boys aided by organist and choirmaster Mytton, 69, in the back of Mytton’s Jaguar.

Denford and Mytton, known as Mark, had denied all the charges.

Following a two-week trial at Hove Crown Court, Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham-by-Sea, was today found guilty of three counts of indecent assault against two boys between January 1987 and January 1990 and cleared of one count of the same charge.

Mytton, of South Road, East Chiltington, East Sussex, was cleared of one count of aiding and abetting indecent assault and cleared of two counts of indecent assault.

He was convicted of three counts of indecent assault relating to a third boy when the victim was in his early teens between September 1992 and September 1994.

Adjourning sentencing for pre-sentence reports until May 2, Judge Paul Tain told the pair: “The matter that you will be sentenced for on May 2 represents a grave breach of trust and a gross breach of trust.

“There is no question at all that a conventional sentence would be custody. However, respective counsel both want to argue that, for particular reasons, the court’s power to suspend can be applied to the case.”

The judge freed Denford and Mytton on bail but said that they should be under the “clear understanding” that he reserved the right to impose an immediate jail sentence next month.

Prosecutor Marcus Fletcher said during the trial that one of Denford’s two victims recalled blowing the whistle about the abuse to a vicar – but nothing was done.

In the end, it was not until last year that police were alerted after one of the boys, now in his late 30s, found out that Denford was still in contact with children.

Through police investigation, the name of a third boy emerged and he disclosed that he suffered abuse at the hands of Mytton from around 1990 to 1994 when he was aged 10 or 11.

He told investigators that he once accompanied Mytton to a dinner party as his “plus one”. The boy also told investigators that Mytton would suck his nipples, and refer to them as Mr Lefty and Mr Righty.

Mr Fletcher told jurors: “What that shows is that there was an understanding between Mr Denford and Mr Mytton that they would talk about young men in their company. They obviously know something about each other’s interests.”

In a police interview after being arrested, Denford told officers the allegations were “lies, absolute lies” and described the claims as “complete fantasy”.

Mytton told police that he was “not really” attracted to children. But when pressed, Mr Fletcher said he told officers: “They are lovely…there is so much beauty…as long as you don’t let it take over.”

The jury was told that in 1981 Mytton was convicted of two counts of gross indecency on a 12-year-old boy, forcing Mytton to leave his position at a church in Uckfield.

He told officers following his arrest on the latest claims: “I like boys. If I was a straight gay, life would be a lot easier. I like boys, I know I like boys and it has cost me everything.”

However, Mytton denied having sex with the boy but conceded that he was “fond” of him and kept pictures of him.

On whether he thought Denford would sexually abuse boys, Mytton replied: “No, I’m astonished and angry. I cannot believe that he would do that and I don’t think he would have done that.”

Mytton said he never talked about his sexual preferences with Denford and that the pair would speak about music and religion instead.

He told police that he knew that the gross indecency he was convicted of in 1981 was “wrong” but that it had not been repeated.

Denford and Mytton are the two latest figures linked to the scandal-hit Diocese of Chichester to be convicted of historic child sex abuse offences.

In February, retired priest Robert Coles, 71, was jailed for eight years at Brighton Crown Court after he admitted abusing young boys dating back to the 1970s.

Coles, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, pleaded guilty to buggery and four indecent assaults on one victim and three indecent assaults against two other boys.

The offences took place in West Sussex and elsewhere in the late 1970s and early 1980s against boys aged between 10 and 16 at the time.

Coles’ conviction led the new Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, to issue a statement saying he was “appalled” by the case and he apologised for the “betrayals and failings” that occurred.

In 2011, the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, set up an official inquiry into the Diocese of Chichester’s child protection policies.

He appointed Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC to conduct the inquiry, launched “in response to concerns within the diocese”.

Before his enthronement as archbishop last month, Mr Welby said the diocese was in the midst of a “new era” under the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner.

Following Denford and Mytton’s convictions, Dr Warner said: “I note the verdict reached by the court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Mr Denford.

“The Diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families.

“We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case.

“The Diocese has learned many lessons from past cases and continues to do so.

“Our safeguarding procedures have been revised and updated and I am committed to ensuring that every person is safe in our church communities.

“Once again I would like to place on record our indebtedness to the police for their thorough and professional work in bringing about a conclusion to these events and for their co-operation in all matters.”

March 2013

Accused organist’s previous conviction for sex abuse

A church organist and choirmaster who is accused of historical child sex abuse was convicted years earlier of abusing a boy, a court has heard.

Michael Mytton, 68, from East Chiltington, East Sussex, has denied aiding and abetting indecent assault.

In 1981 Mr Mytton was forced to leave his position at a church in Uckfield after being convicted of two counts of gross indecency on a 12-year-old boy.

The jury at Hove Crown Court heard he had admitted he liked boys.

Mr Mytton also denies five counts of indecent assault against two boys between January 1987 and September 1994.

The court was told that during an interview with police Mr Mytton said: “I like boys, I know I like boys and it has cost me everything.”

He made the admission while being questioned by police over historical claims of child sex abuse against him and priest Father Keith Wilkie Denford.

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Mr Denford, 78, who was the vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill, West Sussex, is alleged to have molested two boys over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13 in the late eighties.

Earlier the jury was heard that Mr Denford abused one of the boys aided by Mr Mytton following a meal at a restaurant in Cuckfield, and while in the back of Mr Mytton’s Jaguar car.

The court heard that during the police interviews Mr Mytton denied having sex with the boy but conceded that he was “fond” of him, and kept pictures of him.

He said he had never talked about his sexual preferences with Mr Denford and that the pair would speak about music and religion instead.

When asked about whether he thought Mr Denford would sexually abuse boys, Mr Mytton replied: “No, I’m astonished and angry.

“I cannot believe that he would do that and I don’t think he would have done that.”

He told police that he knew that the gross indecency he was convicted of in 1981 was “wrong” but that it had not been repeated.

Previously the court was told that it was not until last year that police were alerted after one of the boys, now in their late 30s, found out that Mr Denford was still in contact with children.

Through police investigation, the name of a third boy emerged and he disclosed that he suffered abuse at the hands of Mr Mytton, of South Road, East Chiltington, from around 1990 to 1994 when he was aged 10 or 11.