May 2001

Church steward who groomed boys for abuse is jailed


A STEWARD at Chichester Cathedral who used his position to abuse young boys attending church functions has been jailed for 16 years.

Terence Banks, 63, a former BBC floor manager, molested 12 boys over almost 30 years since 1972.

After a three-day trial, a jury convicted him of serious sexual assault of a 13-year-old boy between January 1971 and December 1973. Banks, who denied both charges, had already admitted at a previous court hearing 31 sex offences against boys and young men. 

Sentencing him, Judge Richard Brown said “You presented yourself to children and their parents as a kindly, helpful and genuine person. Of course we now know that in reality you were a manipulative, wicked, serial sexual abuser of young men and boys.

You used the cathedral activities as a cloak to cover your targeting of potential young victims.”

Banks admitted 31 sexual offences, which included indecent assault and serious sexual assaults. He was also convicted of one serious sexual offence.

Philip Katz, QC, for the prosecution, had told Lewes Crown Court: “The offences range from touching to repeated buggery. The background to the case, the Crown say, concerns the systematic grooming and sexual abuse of young boys for nearly 30 years.”

The court was told that the victims were offered alcohol, meals out and trips to London, including tours of the BBC studios, by Banks.

The court was told how two of Banks’s older victims suffered severe mental trauma as a result of the abuse. One of them said that the abuse had made him feel “dirty, sick, angry and almost suicidal”; another had suffered a mental breakdown and is unable to work.

Banks had a flat in Hammersmith, West London, close to the BBC, and a home near Chichester Cathedral, where he often showed boys pornographic videos before molesting them.

Mr Katz said that it was one of Banks’s most recent victims, now aged 18, who had triggered the police investigation. “This victim told his girlfriend what had happened to him and then approached police out of concern for other young boys,” Mr Katz said.

“He told police that the abuse had ruined his life and led him to drink heavily and said he was an emotional wreck and the abuse had confused him about everything, including his sexuality.”

“His courageous declaration was the start of this inquiry and it well and truly opened the floodgates.”

Sonia Woodley, QC, for the defence, said that Banks had been abused as a child by a teacher and other adults. She said: “Because of a lack of love from his father he enjoyed the attention from his abusers.”

After the case one of the abused boys, now aged 32, issued a statement of behalf of all Banks’s victims. He said: “It has been noted that Mr Banks received support from the Church since his detainment, but at no time during this difficult period has the clergy offered any support to the victims.

It is no coincidence that the victims selected by Terence Banks were sought and identified from within the cathedral environment,
an environment which should promote Christianity and decency. In this case it harboured the opposite.”

“This sentence will shoot a warning bolt across anyone who has committed such offences – your days are numbered. We stand as one to show that unity works.”

Banks will remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.