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Ex-priest extradited to UK from Australia convicted of sex offences

by Press Association
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Sussex Police/PA Wire

An 81-year-old former priest has been convicted of sex offences after being extradited back to the UK from Australia.

Five years after his victims came forward to police, Meirion Griffiths was convicted of historic offences against a teenage girl and an adult woman.

The offences took place in the 1970s and 1980s when he was a Church of England priest at St Pancras Church in Chichester, Sussex Police said.

Griffiths had emigrated to Western Australia in 1988, but despite putting over 10,000 miles between himself and his former parish, he was arrested on an extradition warrant in November 2017.

He was extradited to the UK in January 2019 and was convicted at Portsmouth Crown Court on Monday after a six-day retrial.

Griffiths, formerly of Coachwood Way, Maddington, Perth, was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault against the girl in the mid-1970s, one of them involving multiple occasions, and two counts of indecent assault against the woman, then in her mid-20s in 1982.

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

All the offences took place in Chichester or other nearby locations in West Sussex when he was working as a priest at St Pancras Church.

He was remanded in custody for sentencing on a date not yet set by the court.

Detective Constable Jo French of Sussex Police 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.

"They have supported our investigation and gave evidence at both trials.

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

Sussex Police said officers had "full co-operation" from Chichester Diocese of the Church of England and said there are no current safeguarding issues or risks for anyone connected to St Pancras Church in relation to this case.

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