December 23, 2022 1.14 pm This story is over 16 months old

Former Church minister jailed for sexual assaults on six boys

10 years in jail over historic sexual assaults

A former Church of England minister from Grimsby has been jailed for ten years after he was found guilty of historic sexual assaults on six boys.

Terence Atkinson, 70, had denied 13 charges of indecent assault on a male but faced ten offences after the counts put to the jury were changed during his trial.

A jury at Lincoln Crown Court convicted Atkinson on nine of the charges after a two week trial earlier this month.

Atkinson, who was cleared of one charge against a seventh boy, showed no reaction as the guilty verdicts were returned and was today (Fri) sentenced by Judge Simon Hirst.

During the sentence hearing a number of impact statement were read out from Atkinson’s victims, now adults.

Passing sentence Judge Hirst said it was clear his abuse had lasting damage on each of his victims for Atkinson’s own gratification.

“The effect of this type of offending always brings trauma. This is one of the particularly bad consequences of these offences,” the judge said.

Judge Hirst told Atkinson he began working as a volunteer at a youth club in Grimsby and rose to a paid role from which he was dismissed in 1983.

The Judge told Atkinson he went on to become an ordained priest in the Grimsby area and a main youth club leader.

“You are a man of good character. It was your good character that allowed you to commit these offences,” Judge Hirst added.

Terry Atkinson at Lincoln Magistrates Court on September 24, 2020. | Photo: BBC News

Judge Hirst made it clear there should be no guilt felt by his victims for not coming forward earlier.

“That guilt is your responsibility,” Judge Hirst told Atkinson.

Siward James-Moore, defending Atkinson, argued there was another side to his character

“He is genuinely a good man, who has devoted his life.

“He has another side to him. He is 70 years old. These proceedings have gone on for six years. It has taken its toll.

“The most recent of these allegations was 25 years ago. He has lived a life in the community for the last 25 years until he retired as a priest.

“He is not in frail health yet.”

The offences occurred against six different complainants, who can not be identified for legal reasons.

One of the victims has died since the offending but Atkinson was still found guilty of abusing him.

All the charges related to different dates between 1978 and 1999.

David Webster, prosecuting, said: “This is a case where charges of indecent assault are brought against Mr Atkinson.”

The jury heard Atkinson was initially a volunteer at various church youth groups and more latterly an ordained Minister in the Grimsby and Cleethorpes area.

Mr Webster said that whatever his benign motive to begin with, Atkinson took the opportunity to influence and then touch boys aged between 10 and 16.

The court heard Atkinson would invite boys back to his various addresses, and used strategies such as reading his electric metre and measuring them up for a Grimsby Town football kit.

He betrayed the trust of these young men and abused them,” Mr Webster said.

Mr Webster said the allegations took many years to be made, and occured during two distinct periods in the 1980s and 1990s.

There was a chronological break in the  proceedings against Atkinson when he was questioned by police and denied any indecent touching.

The jury heard Atkinson later appeared before Lincoln Magistrates and more alleged victims came forward.

Mr Webster said Atkinson was interviewed again, and denied any inappropriate touching.

Atkinson of Tetney Road, Humberston, denied 10 charges of indecent assault on a male person.

He must also register as a sex offender for life and is disqualified from working with children.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order was also made on Atkinson for the rest of his life to protect the public.

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