A RETIRED priest who failed to appear in court to answer a series of sexual-offence charges has been found dead in his home in Oxfordshire. Magistrates in Bradford had issued an arrest warrant for the Revd Trevor Devamanikkam when he failed to appear in court on Tuesday of last week.
A spokeswoman for Thames Valley Police said that officers visited Mr Devamanikkam’s home in Priory Mill Lane, Witney, “after a fear-for-welfare concern”. She said: “Officers entered the property and found a man in his seventies deceased. He was declared dead at the scene.”
She described the death as “unexplained”, but said that “at this stage, the death is not believed to be suspicious.” An inquest was due to be opened on Wednesday, at County Hall, Oxford.
Mr Devamaikkam, aged 70, had been facing six charges, alleging that he had sexually assaulted a teenage boy in the 1980s while serving as a vicar in Bradford.
The boy, known as Michael, later went on to be ordained, but resigned four years ago. He claims that a number of bishops failed to take action after he disclosed the abuse to them. In July last year, he applied to the President of Tribunals to bring a complaint out of time under the Clergy Discipline Measure against the bishops.
A spokeswoman from Church House said this week that the bulk of those applications had been rejected, except for complaints against Mr Devamanikkam, and against the then Bishop of Bradford, the Rt Revd Roy Williamson.
In a statement to The Guardian, Michael said that his thoughts were with Mr Devamanikkam’s family. “I just wanted [him] to be accountable for his actions, and thereby give me some peace. . . Regarding the Church of England, I have nothing but criticism. Their handling of the case of sexual abuse has been quite simply appalling — as it has been, and continues to be, for so many victims of sexual abuse.”
He said that the Church “has put every obstacle possible in the way of helping me, or to actually dealing with the abuse. Even now, the bishops refuse to answer any questions why they did not act on my disclosure, and the Church is protecting them.”
The Church House spokeswoman said that the Church would review its handling of the case in line with its published policies.
The C of E’s lead bishop on safeguarding, the Bishop of Bath & Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, said: “We have been alerted by police that Trevor Devamanikkam has been found dead at his home. Our thoughts . . . are with everyone affected by this sad news, and we have offered Michael pastoral care.”