Former West Sussex vicar convicted of string of historical sex offences

A former Church of England priest has been convicted of sexual offences against a girl and a woman in West Sussex between the 1970s and 1980s.

A six day re-trial saw Meirion Griffiths, 81, convicted of two counts of indecent assault against a girl in her late teens in the mid 1970s, one of them involving multiple occasions, and two counts of indecent assault against a woman in her twenties in 1982.

The offences are alleged to have taken place during the time in which Griffiths, formerly of Maddington, Perth, was the vicar at St Pancras Church, Chichester.

An investigation was launched by detectives in 2014, leading to the arrest of Griffiths, following his emigration to Australia in 1988, on an extradition warrant in November 2017.

He was extradited to the UK in January 2019 to face trial and was remanded in custody for sentencing following his conviction.

He was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault, one against each of the women.

DC Jo French said:

“This abuse has clearly had a profound impact on both victims ever since.

“Griffiths, by virtue of his position as local vicar, came to know them quite separately, and gained their confidence in order to systematically abuse their trust in him for his own sexual gratification.

“Both victims came forward quite independently five years ago, having finally found the resolve to come forward to seek justice.

“We admire their resilience and courage in coming forward and doing so.”

Police said Chichester Diocese of the Church of England have fully supported the investigation.

It’s also emphasised that there are no current safeguarding issues or risks for anyone connected to St Pancras Church in relation to this case.

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