Colin Ivor Pritchard 26 Mar 2009 Court of Appeal (Church)

The several appeals posted today are all relevant to the Christian Church. See a list of all of them here at the end of the day – Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

Colin Ivor Pritchard was an ordained vicar in the Church of England and in 1980 took up his position as the parish priest of a church in Wellingborough. Offences were in the early 1980s. Gross Indecency. Victims 12 years and above.


Some court reports have had victims names redacted and some assault details redacted.

This is a difficult balance –  normally I would think that  I should not “censor” details but on consultation with various people I have taken the decision to redact. This is mainly to protect victims, their friends and relatives from unnecessary detail and to stop the gratification of those who seek salacious details.

In addition to the obvious “victims redaction” to protect victims details, there may also be “assault redaction” across most of the spectrum of abuse. The assaults are left in the charges, but mainly redacted when repeated with reference to the individual. I have also redacted unnecessary detail of assaults.

Redaction may obscure sometimes the legal reason for the appeal, but should make no large difference to the vital information for researchers that these documents contain. That vital information is mainly names of the perpetrators, past addresses, institutions where assaults occurred, the actual charges the perpetrators faced, and dates – on which newspapers are pathetically inaccurate and this information enables the links between people and places and abuse at various times to be ascertained.

Some transcripts may have been subject to automatic reading software and whilst effort has been made to correct these, the text should not be regarded as definitive.  Common mistakes in reprinting here are that quotation marks are sometimes not correct, replaced by odd symbols.

If you think that the balance is not correct or that a particular redaction needs reconsideration, please say.

This appeal is redacted by cathy fox blog for personal and assault detail

Index of Newspaper and Journal articles on this blog [1]

Index of Court Appeals on this blog [2]

[2009] EWCA Crim 965

No: 200804588/D4


Thursday, 26th March 2009

Lord Justice Dyson



Colin Ivor Pritchard

Computer Aided Transcript of the Stenograph Notes of WordWave International Limited A Merrill Communications Company 190 Fleet Street London EC4A 2AG Tel No: 020 7404 1400 Fax No: 020 7831 8838 (Official Shorthand Writers to the Court)

Mr I Peart QC appeared on behalf of the Appellant

Miss A Cotcher QC appeared on behalf of the Crown


(As approved by the Court)

1. LORD JUSTICE DYSON: On 28th July 2008 in the Crown Court at Northampton the appellant pleaded guilty on rearraignment to four counts of indecent assault on a male, contrary to section 15(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956, counts 2, 4, 6 and 9 on the indictment, and was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment concurrent on each count. He also pleaded guilty to three counts of indecency with a child, counts 3, 5 and 7, contrary to section 1(1) of the Indecency with Children Act 1960 and was sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment on each of those counts concurrently with each other and concurrently with the other terms of imprisonment. The total sentence was therefore one of 5 years’ imprisonment. He appeals against conviction on counts 5 and 7 and against sentence with the leave of the Full Court.

2. The appellant who is now 64 years of age was an ordained vicar in the Church of England and in 1980 took up his position as the parish priest of a church in Wellingborough. The victim of all the counts except for count 9 was A, who was born on [redacted] 1968. He was a choirboy at the church and later became an altar boy. When he was about 12 years of age, A asked the appellant if there were any odd jobs he could do to supplement his pocket money. The appellant found him odd jobs to do.

3. The appellant befriended the child, bought him meals, encouraged him to stay overnight and soon started to kiss and cuddle him. This behaviour escalated to include mutual masturbation and oral sex and continued over a 3 year period when A was aged between 12 and 14. That was the subject of counts 2 to 7.

4. The victim of count 9, B, was born [redacted] 1965. He had been sexually abused by another priest who is now deceased. That priest was a friend of the appellant and over the New Year when B was aged 14 or 15, B was visiting the appellant and the other priest. Both priests plied him with alcoholic drinks on New Year’s Eve and when the boy got up in the morning he went downstairs and found the appellant alone in the kitchen. The appellant grabbed his genitals for a moment before releasing him. That was the subject of count 9.

5. The basis of the appeal against conviction is that the convictions on counts 5 and 7 are unsafe because until the law was changed, with effect from 11th January 2001, the offence of committing an act of gross indecency with a child, contrary to section 1(1) of the 1960 Act could only be committed where the complainant was a child under the age of 14. Pursuant to section 39 of the Criminal Justice Court Services Act 2000, the age of a complainant for the purposes of section 1(1) of the 1960 Act was increased to 16 years. It is submitted on behalf of the appellant, and accepted by the Crown, that M was over the age of 14 throughout the period covered by count 7. That conviction must therefore be quashed.

6. The position relating to count 5 is this. That count charged the appellant with committing an act of gross indecency on A between 6th November 1981 and 7th November 1982. As we have said, A was born on [redacted] 1968. Accordingly he reached his 14th birthday [redacted] covered by count 5. The appellant pleaded guilty to that count on the footing that it was a sample count which particularised a course of conduct which took place between 6th November 1981 and 7th November 1982. Miss Cotcher QC has told us that the case on this count and indeed, as we understand it other counts too, was opened on the basis that the offending took place on most Saturdays during the year. It was to that count, understood in that way, that the appellant pleaded guilty. It is submitted on behalf of the appellant that the conviction on count 5 cannot stand because the appellant, 30 years later, is unable to say how often and when the gross indecency acts took place during the relevant year. But we are satisfied that, having regard to the way in which this count was presented by the Crown and to which the appellant pleaded guilty, he must have pleaded guilty to acts of gross indecency on occasions other than the last day of the period covered by the count. In these circumstances the conviction on count 5 is safe and the appeal against conviction on that count is dismissed.

7. We turn to the appeal against sentence. The maximum sentence that could have been passed at the material time in respect of the offences contrary to section 1(1) of the 1960 Act was 2 years’ imprisonment. This was increased to 10 years’ imprisonment by section 52 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997. Section 52 was brought into force on 1st October 1997 by Article 2(k) of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 (Commencement No 2) Order 1997. Article 5(a) of that order provided that section 52 did not apply where the offence was committed before 1st October 1997. It follows that the 5 year sentences passed in respect of count 3, 5 and 7 were ones in respect of which the maximum sentence that could have been imposed was one of 2 years’ imprisonment. Accordingly, we quash the sentences of 5 years’ imprisonment passed in respect of those three counts and we substitute for them sentences of 15 months’ imprisonment concurrent with each other and concurrent with the other sentences.

8. There is, however, a general appeal against sentence on the basis that total sentences of 5 years’ imprisonment were manifestly excessive. The particular criticism that is made of the judge’s sentences is not so much that 5 years was too long of itself. It is rather that the judge indicated at page 5 of his sentencing remarks that, had the appellant not pleaded guilty, the total sentences that he would have passed would have been concurrent sentences of seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. Having stated that, the judge went on to say:

“To give you credit, as I shall and faithfully do, the sentence is one of five years’ imprisonment, concurrent on each count.â€

It is clear that the credit to which the judge was there referring was the credit for the pleas of guilty. What is said on behalf of the appellant is that the judge failed to give further credit to the appellant for the significant personal mitigation which was available to him. The judge referred to the personal mitigation on the first page of his sentencing remarks when he said:

“I take into account in your favour, quite clearly, the many, many positive things that have been written and spoken about you, which describe a very different person from the one that was seen by the two victims in your case. Obviously you have no previous convictions, but it is a man of positive good character that I have to sentence, I accept and clearly a highly respected man, a caring man, a man of integrity and someone, I have heard, was respected and highly regarded both inside the Church and out. You are plainly seen as a dedicated parish priest and you have been missed.â€

The judge went on to say that he was mindful of the passage of time, the fact that the impact of a prison sentence was going to be grave in the case of the appellant, having regard to his age and also his medical report which described his decline in health. The judge said that he took account of all those things. It is submitted that, although the judge said that he had taken these matters into account on the first page of his sentencing remarks, he lost sight of them when he came to say what he said towards the end of his sentencing remarks in the passage to which we have already referred. We cannot accept this submission. It seems to us that the judge clearly took into account the personal mitigation in reaching the conclusion that, if the appellant had contested these charges, he would have imposed a total sentence of seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. He took into account the mitigation and the unquestionably grave aggravating factors that existed in this case in arriving at that seven-and-a-half year figure. It then remained for him only to reduce that figure to reflect the credit that the appellant was entitled to receive for his pleas of guilty. In our judgment, the foundation for the appeal against sentence that the judge failed to take into account the personal mitigation is not there. In our judgment, these sentences were the correct sentences to impose for this very serious offending, over a prolonged period of time. We accordingly allow the appeal against sentence to the extent indicated but otherwise the appeal against sentence is dismissed.

Please note that victims of abuse may be triggered by reading this information. These links are generally UK based.

  • The Sanctuary for the Abused [A] has advice on how to prevent triggers.
  • National Association for People Abused in Childhood [B] has a freephone helpline and has links to local support groups.
  • One in Four [C]
  • Havoca [D].
  • Useful post on Triggers [E]  from SurvivorsJustice [F] blog.
  • Jim Hoppers pages on Mindfulness [G]  and Meditation [H] may be useful.
  • Hwaairfan blog An Indigenous Australian Approach to Healing Trauma  [J]
  • Survivors UK for victims and survivors of male rape or the sexual abuse of men [K]
  • Voicing CSA group [L] helps arrange survivors meetings in your area
  • A Prescription for me blog Various emotional support links [M]
  • ShatterBoys -“Male Survivors Of Childhood Sexual Abuse Inspiring change, Through Shared Experience Whilst Building Connections…Together We Can Heal” [N]


About cathy fox blog on Child Abuse

the truth will out, the truth will shout, the truth will set us free...
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2 Responses to Colin Ivor Pritchard 26 Mar 2009 Court of Appeal (Church)

  1. Pingback: An Index and Timeline of Court and Court of Appeal Documents on Cathy Fox Blog | cathy fox blog on child abuse

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