Former Brighton vicar convicted of child sex abuse

Posted On 05 Apr 2013 at 4:55 pm

A vicar who served in Brighton and Hove has been found guilty of child sex abuse.

Father Keith Wilkie Denford, 78, was convicted by a jury at Hove Crown Court of abusing two boys while he was the vicar of St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill.

Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham, was found guilty of three counts of indecent assault and cleared of one charge of indecent assault after a three-week trial.

Sussex Police said that the offences involved boys of about 13 years old and took place in or near Shoreham between June 1987 and January 1990.

Church organist Michael Mytton, 68, also known as Mark Mytton, of East Chiltington, near Lewes, was cleared of aiding and abetting Denford.

He was convicted of three separate counts of indecent assault and cleared of committing two similar offences in the Newick area between 1990 and 1994.

Denford was ordained as a priest in 1964 and served as curate at St Peter’s Church in Brighton from 1966 to 1971.

He moved from there to a post at Canterbury Cathedral before returning to Sussex. He was vicar of St John the Evangelist from 1985 to 1990.

Since retiring in 1996 he has officiated and preached in several churches in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.

The Bishop of Chichester Dr Martin Warner said: “I note the verdict reached by the court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Mr Denford.

“The diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families.

“We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case.

“The diocese has learnt many lessons from past cases and continues to do so.

“Our safeguarding procedures have been revised and updated and I am committed to ensuring that every person is safe in our church communities.

“Once again I would like to place on record our indebtedness to the police for their thorough and professional work in bringing about a conclusion to these events and for their co-operation in all matters.”

Detective Constable Lee Scott said: “None of these offences had been reported to us at the times they occurred.

“When one of the Burgess Hill victims learnt in 2011 that Wilkie Denford was still active in the church he contacted us and we began inquiries.

“The separate victim of Mytton came forward later when he learnt of the investigation.

“During the investigation we had full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.

“We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being ready to stand up in court.

“Sussex Police takes all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously, no matter when they are alleged to have happened.

“Anyone with such concerns can contact us via 101 and arrange to speak in confidence to experienced detectives.

“We can also help you to access a range of independent counselling and other support services.”

Both defendants were bailed until Thursday 2 May when they are due to be sentenced.

 

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