Former armed robber Matt Martinson is new Carlisle vicar

Rev Martinson with wife Haley, right and son Seth, left Image copyright Diocese of Carlisle
Image caption The Reverend Matt Martinson was ordained in 2006

A former jailed armed robber and drug dealer has been appointed as a new vicar in Carlisle.

The Reverend Matt Martinson was jailed for 11 years in 1995 following an armed raid on a post office in York.

He developed a close relationship with a prison chaplain and after his release was ordained as a priest with the Church of England in 2010.

Mr Martinson is moving to Carlisle's Holy Trinity Church next month from his current posting in Hull.

He is married to Haley and they have a 19-year-old son, Seth. He will now also be Priest in Charge of St Barnabas and St Luke's in Carlisle.

Image copyright Diocese of Carlisle
Image caption Mr Martinson is currently vicar of St John's Bransholme in Hull

He said: "I feel very sad about my past life because of all the people I have hurt.

"If there was some way I could apologise to them, then I would.

"I understand that would probably mean nothing to them because I ruined people's lives.

"I can't change my past but it's made me who I am today.

"I struggled to understand how God could forgive me, but one day there was a sudden realisation that he had; the sense of relief was enormous."

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Right Rev James Newcome, said: "We are delighted to welcome Matt and his family to their ministry in the city of Carlisle.

"His story demonstrates the amazing healing power that God offers up to us all through his love and grace.

"Matt, Haley and Seth will all be in our prayers as they prepare for their move to Cumbria."

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