Ex-Powys vicar jailed for child abuse offences

Image caption,
Richard Hart became a priest in 1986

A former vicar has been jailed for 14 months after admitting a string of sex offences against a young girl.

Richard Hart, 60, formerly of Beguildy, Powys, admitted nine counts of indecent assault and one of indecency with a child between the ages of nine and 11.

He was serving a jail sentence for possessing more than 56,000 images of child abuse, Merthyr Crown Court heard.

Hart, who abused the girl over two years, was said to have a "deep-seated" and "prurient" interest in children.

He committed the offences while he was the vicar of a rural parish at Beguildy, near Knighton.

Hart was serving a sentence of three-and-a-half years imposed in September 2008, and was due for release on 3 June. He was remanded in custody after admitting the latest charges on 24 May.


Prosecutor Ieuan Morris said: "What made these offences worse was his position as an ordained priest and vicar of the Church in Wales.

"This case respresents another aspect of his previous offending in relation to children.

"He has already pleaded guilty to possessing indecent images of children. He collected and stockpiled an abundance of indecent photographs for his own gratification."

Mr Morris told Merthyr Tydfil Crown Court how the 56,000 images "frankly defies comprehension".

He said: "He had a deep-seated and prurient interest in children and a fixation with stories of fantasies."

Prosecutor Ieuan Morris told how he denied five charges against the girl, but he would not face a trial.

John Ryan, defending, said Hart had two autistic sons which required a lot of attention.

Judge Peter Haywood said: "These offences came to light after an extremely frank admission from you."

Hart and his wife lived in the village of Beguildy, and he was also chairman of the governors of a local school.

He had been a vicar in the area for more than 20 years, but was stripped of his duties in the Church in Wales after his offences were discovered.

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