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Former canon given four-year sentence

23 November 2012

A FORMER Canon of Carlisle Cathedral has been sentenced to four years' imprisonment for sexual offences committed between 1983 and 1991.

Mr Justice Singh sentenced the Revd Ronald Johns on Monday at Carlisle Crown Court. Mr Johns had pleaded guilty to a total of ten sexual offences against three teenaged boys, which took place when he was Vicar of Borrowdale and a Canon of Carlisle Cathedral ( News, 5 October).

Justice Singh said that the victims' personal statements "make clear the continuing impact on them of the abuse they suffered at your hands but also their desire to achieve closure in this case". The pre-sentence report stated that Mr Johns manipulated his victims into being abused, and described his behaviour as "predatory".

A statement to the court from the Archdeacon of West Cumberland, the Ven. Richard Pratt, expressed "shock, horror and betrayal". Mr Johns's actions had "damaged the Church's credibility and standing in the world".

Aggravating factors in the case included the number of complainants; the type of abuse; the abuse of a position of trust; and the period of time over which the offending took place. Justice Singh also took into consideration Mr Johns's "previous good character", his early guilty pleas, and testimonials "which speak of the distinguished service you have given to the Church and the help you have given to other people".

Mr Johns will serve half of the four-year sentence, and will then be released on licence, but will remain liable to recall by the Secretary of State until the end of the sentence. He will also be subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and disqualification by the Independent Safeguarding Authority.

Former organist charged. On 8 November, a former organist of St Budock Parish Church, Budock Water, near Falmouth, appeared at Truro Magistrates Court, charged with gross indecency against a boy under 16, and six charges of indecent assault against boys aged under 14. Stuart Ernest Paul is accused of committing the offences between 1975 and 1991. He indicated no plea, and was given unconditional bail. The case was committed to Truro Crown Court.

Adjournment. On Friday of last week, the sentencing of the Revd John Haley Dossor, who has pleaded guilty to indecent assaults on two boys, aged between 13 and 17, during his time as a non-stipendiary minister in Hadleigh (News, 26 October), was adjourned because of an administration problem at Norwich Crown Court.


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