August 2016

Churchgoer finally jailed after sexually abusing 8 young boys


A church member who swore an oath to God to help young boys sexually abused them for more than 40 years.

The devout Catholic Ronald Smith committed sex acts on eight young boys.

Smith, of Winchester Road, Colchester, has been convicted of 12 counts of committing sexual offences following a three-week trial at Ipswich Crown Court.

Smith denied 16 counts, forcing his victims, some who were under ten years when he abused them, to give evidence, reliving the trauma they suffered.

He assaulted the boys in beds, in a car and even at a youth sports club.

Smith, 70, is one of The Knights of Saint Columba, a Catholic men’s organisation who have sworn an oath to “develop young people in their journey of faith” and “help the development of young people”.

Instead, he indulged in his sexual predilection for pre-pubescent boys.

The predatory paedophile could now spend the rest of his life in prison.

Smith was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against a boy not yet ten, committed between 1972 and 1977.

Smith groped the boy and forced him to touch him in a car.

During the course of 1975, Smith indecently assaulted a second boy and was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against the victim.

Between 1980 and 1983, a third victim was indecently assaulted and forced to carry out sexual acts.

Smith was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against this victim.

In 1982 Smith groped another young boy and between 1980, and in 1983 a fifth victim was sexually assaulted.

At the time, Smith was a prominent member of Colchester’s Saint James the Less and Saint Helen Catholic Church, in Priory Street.

He organised parish family events and gave an outward appearance of respectability.

Between 1980 and 1984, he sexually abused two more victims.

In 2014 an eighth boy was abused.

Smith was convicted, by a jury of six men and six women, of one count of rape, ten counts of indecent assault and one count of sexual assault against boys, who cannot be named because they are victims of sexual assaults.

Ten counts were unanimous and two by a majority of ten to two.

He was cleared of three counts of indecent assault.

The trial continues with the jury still considering one count of an alleged sexual assault against a child aged under 13.

Det Con Jim Finnigan said: “This has been a long investigation into child sexual assaults covering the last 40 years.

“It is a tremendous result for the many victims in this case.

“I hope it will bring some sense of closure for them.

“They have shown courage in coming forward and providing their evidence.

“They have remained steadfast in working with the police and helping to bring the defendant to justice.”

The jury will return today to consider the final count which allegedly took place in 2014.

Smith has been remanded in custody until sentencing, which is due to take place at Ipswich Crown Court on September 2.