Satan-worshipping vicar deemed 'danger to the public' jailed as over 22,000 indecent images found

Renshaw was found guilty of 8 offences by a jury earlier this year. Credit: Sussex Police

A vicar who was found with more than 22,000 indecent images of children and dead rotting animals in his home has been jailed for four years.

Reverend David Renshaw had been the vicar at Holy Trinity and Christ Church in Worthing since 2018.

A judge told the vicar that his refusal to accept responsibility for his actions showed he remains a danger to the public.

“You are still unable to accept your criminality and sexual interest in children,” Her Honour Judge Christine Henson KC told Renshaw.

A jury at Hove took less than 30 minutes to convict Renshaw of all eight counts of possessing indecent, extreme and illegal images of children and animals.

“Perhaps incarceration will help you realise you need treatment,” the judge told him.

As a serving vicar, Renshaw, who had more than 22,000 illegal images on his computers, was a high risk to children.

The age, vulnerability and clear pain and distress caused to the children in the images and videos were aggravating factors in his four year sentence, the judge told Renshaw.

The time and effort it would have taken to amass such a large collection showed his level of commitment.

“It showed you were involved in a network of sharing indecent images of children,” the judge said.

Renshaw, 63, a vicar since 1985, sat motionless in an interview suite as he was sentenced by video from HMP Lewes.

He will spend half of the four year sentence in custody before he is eligible for release on licence.

A Sexual Harm Prevention Order banning Renshaw from unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 years will apply when he leaves prison. He will also be required to be on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and pay £4,200 costs.

In his defence, Sarah Day said the vicar had lost everything.

“These convictions bring to a close the life he has previously known,” Ms Day said.

“He has lost his home and his vocation.”

The cleric remained on a Church of England safe list for two years after National Crime Agency police traced his online activity. Renshaw was still on the list days after his conviction in February this year.

A jury found him guilty of having more than 22,000 indecent images and videos of children and animals.

Renshaw, who attempted suicide after the guilty verdict, appeared by video for his sentencing at Hove Trial Centre.

Police found rotting dead animals, used needles and drug pipes when they raided his parish home.

The RSPCA seized severely malnourished dogs, cats and chickens after police raided Renshaw’s home in Worthing.

Police traced his online activity to a computer at his three bed semi.

Lewes Crown Court in Hove heard it would have taken months to download all the images and video found on the hard drive.

The Church of England vicar tried to claim he would not have had time to download all the images and video, telling police: “Sermons don’t write themselves.”

After his crimes were discovered, Renshaw tried to frame his own sons telling police they had access to his computers.

In statements read to the court, his sons said they were saddened and disappointed their own father named them as potential suspects.

The jury heard graphic descriptions of horrific child sex abuse videos police found on the drive.

Police also found dozens of porn DVDs when they searched his house.

David Renshaw at Hove Crown Court Credit: ITV Meridian

Renshaw was made priest in charge of Christ Church Worthing in December 2019.

He was on long term sick leave and in hospital when police raided his home on August 11, 2020.

He was cautioned by police for possession of Class A and B drugs in May 2021.

The jury did not believe his explanations for his online activity and returned eight verdicts in less than 25 mins.

Investigating officer, Detective Sergeant David Rose, said: “Throughout this investigation, Renshaw has sought to blame anyone but himself.

“He has failed to accept or take any responsibility for his actions, which I am certain the local parish he represented would be appalled by.

“The search of his address was one of the most revolting tasks our officers will ever have to endure.

“As well as malnourished living animals, there was also a dead rotting kitten and a dead rotting rat on the floor, in addition to used needles and other drug paraphernalia lying around.

“It was a deeply unpleasant scene to search.

“It was also a particularly harrowing experience for the officer who had to sift through and grade each image, something that will stay with him for the rest of his life.”

The Diocese of Chichester said Renshaw was suspended immediately after police searched his address and he has not been in active ministry since.

Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, said the diocese cooperated closely with Sussex Police throughout this investigation.

A spokesperson for the Diocese said: "David Renshaw, vicar of Christ Church Worthing, was found guilty on eight counts of offences relating to indecent and prohibited images of children and to extreme pornography. He has now been sentenced.

"The offences committed by Mr Renshaw are truly appalling and, following his conviction, further action has been taken under the Clergy Discipline Measure, resulting in his being removed from post and prohibited from exercising ministry in the Church of England for life.

"In June 2020, Sussex Police contacted the Diocese of Chichester's Safeguarding Team to inform them that Mr. Renshaw was being investigated in relation to these matters.

"The Bishop of Chichester immediately suspended Mr. Renshaw under the Clergy Discipline Measure following the execution of a warrant at his address in August 2020. This was the earliest he could be suspended without compromising the police investigation. He has not been in active ministry since then. The Diocese has co-operated closely with Sussex Police throughout.

"The Bishop is fully committed to ongoing support and pastoral care for all in the parish and the Diocese is doing everything it can to chart a supportive way forward for the people of the parish and the wider community."