Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Church pair guilty of child abuse

Father Keith Wilkie Denford was convicted of three counts of indecent assault against two boys between 1987 and 1990
Church organist Michael Mytton, known as Mark, was convicted of three counts of indecent assault against a boy between 1992 and 1994

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".

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 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.

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