A lay preacher has been given an 11-and-a half year prison sentence for non-recent sexual offences against three girls in Sussex after an investigation by Sussex Safeguarding detectives.
Peter Ernest Bourne, 79, retired, of Moorefield Way, Great Stukeley, near Huntington, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday (27 September), having been convicted on the same day after an eight-day trial on 14 counts.
These included one rape, five offences of indecency with a child, and eight offences of indecent assault, separately involving the three girls, all known to him, in Southwick, Hove and Worthing during the 1960’s and 1970’s while they were between the ages of 9 and 16.
He will be a registered sex offender for life.
He was found not guilty of the rape of one of the girls and of sexually assaulting another of the girls.
Detective Constable Andrew Roe of the West Sussex Safeguarding Investigations Unit said; “This investigation started two years ago when we received information for this first time, from a third party.
“A sensitive investigation was carried out to identify and gain the confidence of the victims, who had not disclosed and information to police for up to fifty years.
“Bourne had taken advantage of their vulnerability and exploited them each separately, for his own sexual gratification over several years.
“He refused to admit his guilt throughout, and when arrested he made no comment to all questions put to him.
“We also discovered that Bourne, who worked in a range of roles, including as a charity worker, a coal man and a driver, was also a lay preacher in various churches including evangelical and Baptist churches, in Sussex and elsewhere.
“However these vulnerable young victims became known to him through his personal life and not through his church activities.
“Due to the abuse that he subjected these individuals to, it has taken great bravery and strength for these individuals to come forward. Our thanks go to all of Bourne’s family still in Sussex who supported the prosecution case with information, and especially to the three victims, now adults in their fifties, came to court to give evidence against them .
“We will always take reports like this seriously and investigate to seek justice wherever possible, as well as enabling victims to access other sources of support and counselling. You can contact us at any time online or by calling 101, to arrange to talk in confidence to experienced investigators.”
For information about sources of advice and support to prevent and deal with child sex offending also see the Sussex Police website.
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