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'Dangerous sex offender', former vicar receives four year prison sentence over abusive pictures of children

by Kelly Valencia

A former Church of England vicar, who worked for more than 30 years in parishes across north England, has been jailed for a fourth time for possessing images of child sexual abuse. 

Paul Battersby had more than 800 images of children, some as young as two, in his devices. He also had some pictures of adults having sex with animals. 

Police uncovered the images after an unannounced visit to his house in October 2020 as they were monitoring him following similar offences committed in 2017. 

A judge described him as a "dangerous sex offender". 

"I am quite satisfied on the evidence before me - these offences and the deliberate way they were committed and the offences on three other occasions - you will go on to commit serious harm by the commission of further specified offences," the judge continued. 

Battersby had previously pleaded guilty and said he wanted to do sex offender rehabilitation. 

"You say you want to change," Judge Simon Hickey told Battersby. "I find that difficult to accept, given, in my judgement, your deeply embedded behaviour.

"You deliberately flout any court order and attempts to rehabilitate yourself."

The 72-year-old was first reported to police in 2007 after he was turned in by his wife and stepson for having indecent images on his laptop. In 2009 Battersby broke a court order which meant his use of the internet was no longer being monitored. 

Battersby was then jailed for 12 months in 2010 after 160 pictures were found in a Church of England owned laptop. In 2017 he was found in possession of a shoebox containing children's clothes as well as 1,730 indecent images of children. 

His defender, barrister Helen Chapman said: "There is little that can really be said on his behaviour as mitigation." 

The twice-married former vicar has been sentenced to four years of imprisonment and three years of prison licence.  

The Church of England expelled him after his first sexual offense.

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