February 2018

Paedophile priest jailed for sex crimes in Sussex

A former Church of England priest has been jailed for sex crimes.

Ifor Whittaker, 73, of Rectory Road, Sutton, was sentenced at Hove Crown Court today (February 22) for seven offences against a young boy between February 1987 and February 1991.

The man previously known as Colin Pritchard was sentenced to a total of 16 years for inciting the boy, then aged between 10 and 14, to commit an act of gross indecency along with offences of gross indecency, sex assault and conspiracy with another vicar, Roy Cotton (who has since died), to commit acts of indecency with the boy.

Detective Constable Chris Smith, of the Sussex Police complex abuse unit, was pleased with the result.

He said: “The victim, now a man in his forties, was a vulnerable child when Whittaker took cynical advantage of him for his own sexual gratification.

“The victim told us that Cotton, although his principal abuser, ‘passed me over like a toy to be borrowed by a friend’.

“We are glad that Whittaker has finally faced justice, and we have ensured that the victim, who gave evidence in court, has had access to sources of advice, counselling and support.”

The Sussex investigation began in 2012 when police followed up information from the Diocese of Chichester that in the late 1990s the victim may have been sexually assaulted by Cotton, then vicar of nearby Brede (in East Sussex), who died in 2006, and that Whittaker, Vicar of Sedlescombe at the time (also in East Sussex), known to be a close friend of Cotton, might also have been involved.

At that stage and again in the following year, the victim discussed the way in which Cotton had assaulted him, and had met Whittaker through Cotton but did not disclose any offences by Whittaker.

In 2014 officers contacted the victim yet again to seek to resolve the enquiry, which had been part of the large Sussex Police investigation Operation Perry, and which had resulted in conviction and sentencing of three other priests from the diocese for sexual offences against young boys and men.

At this point the victim disclosed that he had not been telling the full story. He described how Whittaker had systematically abused him at the Sedlescombe vicarage.