Taunton child sex abuse vicar David Roberts jailed for 12 years

David Roberts
Image caption Roberts committed a 'gross abuse of trust' said the judge

A former vicar has been jailed for sexually abusing a teenage boy in the 1980s.

David Roberts, 68, of Taunton, pleaded guilty to five counts of sexual offences, including indecent assault.

Taunton Crown Court heard the abuse occurred when he was the chaplain at a school in Somerset.

Sentencing Roberts, former vicar of St John's Church in the town, to 12 years in prison, the judge said it was a "gross abuse of trust".

Victim 'agonised'

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Right Reverend Peter Price, apologised to Roberts' victim on behalf of the Church.

He said: "I am dismayed that he has fallen so far short of the very high standards expected of priests in the Church of England.

"I am very sorry that these offences were committed by a man in a position of trust; a trust he betrayed so badly."

Roberts, of Henley Road, previously admitted two charges of indecent assault and three more serious sex offences between January 1985 and January 1988.

The court heard how he befriended one teenage boy, allowing the victim to smoke and drink alcohol in his office, before paying the boy money to carry out sex acts.

Judge Graham Hume Jones told him: "You were in a position of trust... you abused that trust."

The court was told the abuse, which happened when Roberts was in his 40s, was only recently reported to police recently after the victim became a father and decided he needed to speak out.

Prosecutor William Hunter told the court the victim had "agonised" over the decision to tell his story.

£5 for a kiss

"He (Roberts) would allow the boy to smoke in his company.

"The victim thought of him as cool. He was like a father figure."

Roberts began the abuse by paying the boy £5 for allowing him to kiss him but the severity of the abuse later escalated, the court heard.

The victim was meeting with more frequent requests and the offer of payment at £50 per time.

He said he needed the money from Roberts to fund his cannabis habit.

In defence, Sean Brunton said the offences had not been repeated but marked the "end of Mr Roberts's career and reputation".

He said: "It is a credit to the complainant who has in some small way found it possible to have an element of forgiveness.

"He (the victim) still finds it hard to be angry. He went to the police with great reluctance."

Sentencing Roberts, the judge said: "You're a man of the church and in that capacity you became the chaplain of a school. You were in a position of trust.

"You clearly groomed him by allowing him to smoke and drink alcohol.

Victim's bravery

"At the time of these offences you were a mature man. I have read the victim's impact statement and in that it can be seen the effect that your conduct has had on him over the years."

Now that Roberts has been sentenced the church will begin its own disciplinary proceedings against him. This is likely to deprive him of the right to ever act as a priest again.

After the sentencing, Detective Constable Andrew Daw said: "This was an extremely sensitive investigation that has resulted in Roberts being jailed for a significant amount of time.

"This sentence is down to the courage and bravery of the victim to come forward and tell us about the abuse he suffered at the hands of Roberts.

"He was in a position of trust as a vicar and he abused that position, sexually abusing a vulnerable boy."