Sussex church 'predatory paedophile' jailed for historic child abuse

Wilson jailed today at Lewes Crown Court. Picture: Sussex Police
Wilson jailed today at Lewes Crown Court. Picture: Sussex Police

A ‘predatory paedophile’ church choirmaster who groomed children and manipulated their parents has been jailed.

Music teacher Andrew Wilson convinced parents to let him spend time alone with their children and then abused them, Lewes Crown Court heard today.

Many of the offences took place while Wilson worked at St Margaret's Church in Warnham. Picture: Google Streetview

Many of the offences took place while Wilson worked at St Margaret's Church in Warnham. Picture: Google Streetview

Many of the historic offences took place while he worked at St Margaret’s Church in Warnham, near Horsham.

He was convicted of 19 sex offences after a three week trial in which survivors were forced to recount their painful experiences.

Wilson, 57, of Norwood Way, Walton-on-the Naze in Essex, appeared for sentencing this morning.

Brave victims of his crimes had statements read out in court today by the prosecution.

One said: “Andrew Wilson and his actions shattered by life as a child and an adult.

“I hated myself for what had happened.”

Another said: “The fact that I still attribute a lot of my own achievements and merit to AW demonstrates how manipulative he was towards me.”

Prosecutor Sarah Jones said: “These children became extremely vulnerable because of the degree of influence Andrew Wilson was able to obtain for himself with their parents.

“He groomed both the child and parents to be allowed the length of time alone with the children.”

Defence barrister Nneka Akudlo said: “There is very little that can be said in mitigation for these offences.

“It will however come as no surprise to this court having had a three week trial Mr Wilson does not accept the jury’s verdict.”

She called for sentence to be proportionate and for restrictions placed on Wilson to be fair.

Sentencing Wilson, Judge Christopher Moss QC said: “You are a talented and skilled musician and chorister.

“You are also a practicing, predatory paedophile in the grooming and then sexual abuse of pre-teenage boys whose complete trust and that of their parents you had.”

Wilson was jailed for a total of 12 years.

He will be a registered sex offender indefinitely and was made subject of a sexual harm prevention order.

The charges of which he was convicted are:

- Gross indecency with a child: four counts

- Indecent assault of a male: nine counts

- Arrange/facilitate the commission of a child sexual offence

- Sexual assault of a male child

- Possession of indecent images of a child: three counts

Detective Constable Gemma Nickols of the Sussex Police Complex Abuse Unit said; "Wilson has been a committed and highly capable musician over many years, well known in the world of all-male choirs and choral music.

"His criminal behaviour involved grooming certain boys, singling them out for special treatment, flattering them with his notions of how special they were, and then luring them into a sexual relationship with him.

"Our investigation started three years ago when one of his Warnham victims contacted us via the recently established Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), and we subsequently traced the other two victims.

"We arrested and first interviewed Wilson in September that year, but he denied any wrongdoing and has done so throughout the trial.

"This meant that all three victims had to give their evidence and were subject to cross-examination. We very much admire their courage and fortitude in coming forward, and in supporting the prosecution throughout."

An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Wilson’s actions were wicked and predatory, robbing his victims of their childhoods.

“Admitting his guilt would have spared them the trauma of reliving their abuse but instead they were forced to recount their experiences in court, paying a heavy emotional toll.

“Cases such as this show that victims can achieve justice no matter how long ago the crime occurred.”