Sussex

Former Sussex priest jailed for sex abuse against boy

Ifor Whittaker Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Ifor Whittaker was previously known as Colin Pritchard

A "disgusting and despicable" ex-Anglican priest has been jailed for sexually abusing a boy and conspiring with another priest to abuse the child.

Ifor Whittaker, formerly Colin Pritchard, was convicted of abusing the boy, aged between 10 and 16 when the abuse happened in the 1980s and 1990s.

The 73-year-old also conspired with ex-clergyman Roy Cotton, who has since died, to commit sex acts.

Whittaker, of Rectory Road, Sutton, south London, was jailed for 16 years.

He was told he will serve a minimum of 10 years in prison. He is already a registered sex offender for life after a previous conviction.

Sentencing Whittaker, Judge Paul Tain described the priest's behaviour as "disgraceful, disgusting and despicable",

He said: "It was an obvious and clear case of grooming, where he carefully manipulated a vulnerable child."

Whittaker had "attempted to bamboozle, cheat and mislead the jury", the judge said.

He said the abuser had "plied the victim with alcohol" and "emotionally blackmailed the boy by saying 'no one would believe you over a priest'".

Image caption The boy had been invited by Whittaker to do gardening work at the church

Whittaker, a former rector of Sedlescombe, near Battle, was convicted of seven counts, which also included gross indecency and inciting the boy to commit gross indecency.

The offences took place between February 1987 and February 1993 in East Sussex, Hove Crown Court was told.

The jury was told Whittaker was a "predatory paedophile" and had organised and facilitated the abuse with Cotton, who worked as a priest in Brede, near Rye, in the 1990s.

He died in 2006 and was never prosecuted.

The victim, now in his 40s, told the court Cotton had been the main abuser and had "just passed me over like a toy to be borrowed by a friend".

'Quite forceful'

The court heard the abuse began after he was invited to do gardening work at the church by Whittaker in return for pocket money.

Whittaker and Cotton "had an agreement" and Cotton would often take the boy to and from Whittaker's house, it was said.

There were also occasions at Cotton's house when, after abuse had taken place, Whittaker would "suddenly immediately appear in the room as if he had been watching", the jury heard.

Whittaker's victim described him as "quite forceful, quite scary".

The jury was told Whittaker had previously pleaded guilty to gross indecency and indecent assault in 2008 over offences which had take place in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire against teenage boys in the 1980s.

'Profound regret'

In 2010 Baroness Elizabeth Butler-Sloss was appointed by the Diocese of Chichester to carry out the review into how the two priests were allowed to work at East Sussex churches following the earlier sex abuse allegations.

The diocese apologised "unreservedly" after Baroness Butler-Sloss's report criticised both senior clergy and Sussex Police over how they dealt with historical claims of abuse by Cotton and the then Colin Pritchard.

Following Whittaker's latest conviction, the Diocese of Chichester issued a statement saying: "We express our profound sorrow and regret to the victim in this case and our admiration for their courage and determination in coming forward.

"The abuse of children is both a travesty and a tragedy and a complete betrayal of the Christian faith.

"This case demonstrates once again why it is so important to listen to those reporting abuse."

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