BREAKING NEWS: Former priest sentenced for child sex offences

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne.'PICTURE SUPPLIED BY SUSSEX POLICE
Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne.'PICTURE SUPPLIED BY SUSSEX POLICE

A RETIRED priest was sentenced to eight years in prison today (February 14), for 11 child sex offences.

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, appeared at Brighton Crown Court and was sentenced for sexual offences against young boys.

At a hearing on December 14, at Chichester Crown Court, Coles pleaded guilty to 11 offences against a boy in Chichester between 1982 and 1984 and offences against two other boys, aged ten at the time.

The offences were: one offence of buggery and four indecent assaults against the first victim and three indecent assaults against each of the other two victims between 1978 and 1979.

A further seven offences, for which Coles was due to stand trial on June 10 were ordered to lie on file.

The charges were as follows: three of buggery of a boy aged between 15 and 16 in Chichester between 1982 and 1984, two of indecent assault of the same boy between 1982 and 1983, and one each of indecent assault of two other boys, who were aged 10 at the time of the alleged offences Coles had pleaded not guilty to all these offences.

At today’s hearing, prosecutor Ryan Richter advised the court that, after consideration, including consultation with Sussex Police and the three victims, the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed with the seven outstanding charges.

The trial set for June 10, would not take place and sentencing Judge Anthony directed the seven charges would lay on the court file.

Coles was sentenced to a total of eight years – five years for buggery and two-and-a-half for each of the four indecent assaults against the same victim, all to run concurrently.

He was sentenced to 18 months for each of the three indecent assaults against the second victim and 18 months for the three indecent assaults against the third victim, to run consecutively with the sentences for the offences against the first victim.

Coles was also served with a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) prohibiting him from any contact with the three victims, from having any unsupervised contact with boys under 16, and from seeking any employment or voluntary work which would involve unsupervised access to children under 16.

He was also required to register as a sex offender for life on his release from prison.

Coles was arrested on March 6 last year following a six-month enquiry by Sussex Police detectives.

He was charged in August on the authority of the South East Complex Case Unit of the Crown Prosecution Service.

None of the charges related to any allegations of recent or current offending and police emphasise there is nothing to suggest that any children are currently at risk.

Detective Inspector Jez Prior of Sussex Police said; “We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being prepared to give evidence against Coles. 
“We continue to encourage people wishing to report offences to contact us, regardless of how along ago alleged offending took place. You can talk to experienced detectives in confidence and we can help you access a range of counselling and other support services.

“In carrying out this investigation we also received full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.”