Former lay priest convicted of sex offences

An East Sussex man has been convicted of sexual offences against two boys.

Christopher Howarth, aged 68, retired, from Uckfield, was convicted at Hove Crown Court after a ten-day trial, of offences all committed in the Uckfield area.

He had previously pleaded guilty to two other sexual offences against one of the boys. Howarth, who had been on court bail during the trial, was remanded in custody for sentencing on 7 August.

Howarth was convicted of 16 offences against one of the boys, between 2005 and 2011 when the boy was aged between 10 and 17.

"Howarth came to know the boys in his capacity as a lay priest at Holy Trinity CofE church in Uckfield, when they were very young, and befriended them over several years, giving support, but also offending against them. He was suspended by the Church as soon as the allegations came to light.

Some of the offences against both boys took place in the study at his home, and one of the boys was also assaulted in Howarth's office at Uckfield Community Technology College, where he was deputy principal until his retirement eight years ago.

The Diocese of Chichester and the College have given us full co-operation throughout this investigation.

This illustrates once again the way in which we will always take seriously such allegations, refer victims to sources of support and counselling, and where appropriate will recommend prosecution."

– Detective Constable Amy Green - Sussex Police
Christopher Howarth convicted Credit: Sussex Police