Former Chichester Diocese priest convicted of sex offences

TWO Sussex men have been convicted today (Friday, April 5) of sexual offences against boys between 23 and 26 years ago.

Keith Wilkie Denford, 78, a priest, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham, West Sussex, and Michael Mytton, 69, of South Road, East Chiltington, East Sussex, known locally as Mark, were convicted at Hove Crown Court after a three-week trial.

The case was adjourned for sentencing on Thursday, May 2, and the defendants remain on bail meanwhile.

Denford was convicted of two indecent assaults on a boy then under 16, in or near Shoreham, and one indecent assault on another boy, also aged under 16 and also in or near Shoreham, on dates between June, 1987, and January, 1990

He was found not guilty of a third charge of indecent assault against the first boy.

Mytton has been convicted of three counts of indecently assaulting a boy under 16 in the Newick area between 1990 and 1994.

He was found not guilty of one count of aiding and abetting Denford in the alleged Shoreham indecent assault over which Denford was found not guilty, and was also found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault against the boy in the Newick area.

Detective Constable Lee Scott said; “None of these offences had been reported to us at the times they occurred.

“When one of the Burgess Hill victims learned in 2011 that Wilkie Denford was still active in the church he contacted us and we began enquiries. The separate victim of Mytton came forward later when he learned of the investigation.

“During the investigation we had full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.

“We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being ready to stand up in court.

“Sussex Police takes all reports of sexual offences extremely seriously, no matter when they are alleged to have happened.

“Anyone with such concerns can contact us via 101 and arrange to speak in confidence to experienced detectives.

We can also help you to access a range of independent counselling and other support services.”

A statement issued on behalf of the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said: “I note the verdict reached by the court today and we will now move swiftly to implement our own disciplinary procedures following this verdict in the case of Denford.

“The diocese fully acknowledges the suffering caused both to survivors of abuse and their families.

“We deeply regret the betrayal of trust in the context of public pastoral ministry and we extend our prayers and support to those caught up in the events highlighted by this case.

“The Diocese has learned many lessons from past cases and continues to do so.

“Our safeguarding procedures have been revised and updated and I am committed to ensuring that every person is safe in our church communities.

“Once again I would like to place on record our indebtedness to the police for their thorough and professional work in bringing about a conclusion to these events and for their co-operation in all matters.”