Ex-vicar convicted of historic sex offences in Chichester

A former Church of England priest has been convicted of sexual offences against a girl and woman in West Sussex in the 1970's and 1980's, following a Sussex Police investigation.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 5:17 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 5:18 pm
Meirion Griffiths, 81,

Meirion Griffiths, 81, formerly of Coachwood Way, Maddington, Perth, Western Australia, was convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court on Monday January 13 after a six-day re-trial, of two counts of indecent assault against a girl then in her late teens in the mid-1970's, one of them involving multiple occasions, and two counts of indecent assault against a woman then in her mid-twenties in 1982, police said.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on a date not yet set by the court. He was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault, one against each of the women.

At Winchester Crown Court on August 7 2019 a jury had failed to agree on verdicts over the same six counts against Griffiths after an eight-day trial, and was discharged.

All the offences took place in Chichester or other nearby locations in West Sussex.

The prosecution followed an investigation by Sussex Police detectives after the allegations were received in 2014.

Detective Constable Jo French of Sussex Police said: "This abuse has clearly had a profound impact on both victims ever since. Griffiths, by virtue of his position as local vicar, came to know them quite separately, and gained their confidence in order to systematically abuse their trust in him for his own sexual gratification.

"Both victims came forward quite independently five years ago, having finally found the resolve to come forward to seek justice. They have supported our investigation and gave evidence at both trials. We admire their resilience and courage in coming forward and doing so.

The two victims each eventually moved away from the area and Griffiths emigrated to Western Australia in 1988. It was there that he was arrested on an extradition warrant in November 2017 as a result of the Sussex Police investigation, and he was finally extradited to the UK in January 2019 to face trial.

Throughout the investigation Sussex Police have had full co-operation from the Chichester Diocese of the Church of England.

Police emphasise that there are no current safeguarding issues or risks for anyone connected to St Pancras Church in relation to this case.