Maldon vicar Peter Low handed community order for downloading 179 indecent images of children
A vicar who downloaded and viewed a series of indecent images of children has avoided jail after being handed a community order.
Peter Low, 65, served as the vicar of Heybridge and Langford Parishes until July last year, when police discovered the horde of vile photographs and drawings.
Low, of Crescent Road, Heybridge, only came to the attention of officers after he reported a break-in at his home after returning from holiday.
It was at this time that police discovered a series of hand written and illustrated stories, which contained explicit sexual acts between children, had been posted through the letterboxes of neighbouring houses.
As their inquiries continued, police realised the handwriting on the graphic stories matched that of Low, who was arrested on July 28.
Officers then recovered indecent images from a black computer tower found nine images at category A, the most serious type of images which included penetrative activity between children.
In addition, police also discovered 25 Category B images, 21 Category C images and 124 prohibited images that were in cartoon form.
Low, of Crescent Road, Heybridge, pleaded guilty to three counts of possession of indecent images of children and one count of possession of a prohibited image of a child at Chelmsford Crown Court on March 29.
Low was suspended from his duties as a vicar by the Bishop of Chelmsford during the police investigation and will now face a Church investigation under the Clergy Discipline Measure.
Today (May 2), he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court to be sentenced.
The court heard that the images found on Low’s storage device were of pre-pubescent children, mainly of boys.
“Compared to what often comes before this court the numbers are relatively low,” said Prosecutor Peter Dare.
“But what we do know from the defendant’s computer is it has a search history which throughout 2015 and 2016 had terms including ‘boy models’, ‘eight year old boys’, ‘schoolboy sex’ and ‘nude children pictures.'”
Passing sentence, Judge Jeremy Benson said: “I am not going to send you to prison today.
“You must appreciate that courts take the view that possession of indecent photographs very seriously.
“In particular, the Category A images which show penetrative sex of or by young children, and in your case, pre-pubescent children. Fortunately there are only nine.
“This is a case which would normally pass the custody threshold. On the other hand, I take into account that you pleaded guilty at the first hearing.
“I also take into account that you are a man of 65 years of age, who has previously led an unblemished life and served the community in your profession.”
Judge Benson complied with the prosecution request for a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and for the destruction of the computer.
Low was then sentenced to a 36 month community order, which includes the requirement to complete 150 hours of unpaid work and undertake sex offender rehabilitative treatment.
In addition, Low has been placed on the Sex Offenders Register, ordered to pay £670 in prosecution costs, as well as the statutory surcharge, within three months.
Paedophile vicar admits downloading images of child sex abuse of most explicit category
VICAR Peter Low has admitted downloading vile images of child sexual abuse.
The 65-year-old was the vicar of Heybridge St Andrew and St George and Langford St Giles from 2008 until last July when the images were discovered and he was suspended.
Low, of Crescent Road, Heybridge admitted four offences when he appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court today.
Wearing a suit and tie the disgraced vicar admitted downloading nine indecent images of children at category A.
This is the highest category and includes the most horrific and explicit images which can be downloaded.
The precise charge involves Low making indecent images of children in July last year in the Maldon district, which is when he was caught.
He admitted a similar count of making 25 indecent images at category B and a third count of making 21 indecent images at category C.
Low also admitted possessing 124 prohibited images of children.
The paedophile vicar has been ordered to inform police of his whereabouts effectively meaning he will be a registered sex offender in the interim between his guilty plea and his sentence in May.
Sentencing was adjourned so a pre sentence report is prepared by the probation service detailing the recommended punishment and rehabilitation for the judge to consider.
Judge Christopher Morgan said: “A report will assist the court to determine the appropriate sentence.”
Turning to Low Judge Morgan said: “I don’t know what the appropriate sentence will be and have ordered a pre sentence report.
“Sentencing will not take place until Tuesday, May 2.
“You will have to sign a form before you leave the building and you must register your information and current home address with the police.”
The report was on an “all options” basis which includes a possible jail sentence.
Low was released on bail.