Retired Uckfield priest jailed for ten years for sex offences

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A former Uckfield deputy principal and lay priest who was convicted of sexual offences against two boys has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Christopher Howarth, of Rocks Park Road, Uckfield, was convicted at Hove Crown Court on July 17 after a ten-day trial.

The retired 68-year-old was found guilty of 26 offences, all committed between 2005 and 2010 in the Uckfield area, including sexual assault, sexual activity with a child, taking indecent photographs of one of the children and causing a child to engage in sexual activity.

He was found not guilty of five offences. He had previously pleaded guilty to two other sexual offences against one of the boys.

Howarth appeared at Lewes Crown Court this afternoon (Friday, October 2) after two previous sentencing dates, on August 7 and September 14, were postponed due to the availability of Her Honour Judge Shani Barnes and of a free courtroom with disabled access to meet Howarth’s needs.

Howarth, who was deputy principal of Uckfield Community Technical College until 2007, and, until his arrest in December 2012, a lay priest at Holy Cross Church in Uckfield, was jailed for ten years.

In addition to the ten-year sentence, he will then serve a further extended period of five years under licence supervision.

He was also given a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) prohibiting him from contact from anyone under-18 and from employment involving young people, and will be a registered sexual offender for life.

Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS South East, Jaswant Narwal, said: “The children in this case suffered long-standing and entrenched sexual abuse at the hands of the defendant. He was a man they trusted in as a lay priest and a former deputy headmaster and he abused that trust in the most appalling way.

“It is clear that the appalling abuse that these two young boys suffered has had a devastating effect on them both yet, despite that, they were determined to see Howarth brought to justice and both of them showed real courage in giving evidence at the trial. Now that Howarth has been sentenced for his crimes, we hope that they can begin the process of moving on with their lives.”

For a full report from the trial, click here.

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