Convicted Chichester diocese priests banned from preaching for life

Images provided by Sussex Police
Images provided by Sussex Police

TWO priests jailed for abusing children are forbidden from preaching for the rest of their lives.

The Diocese of Chichester confirmed former priests Robert Coles and Gordon Rideout were prohibited for life from exercising any functions of ordained ministry within the Church of England.

Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner said: “A sentence of prohibition for life is the most severe sanction that can be imposed under the clergy discipline measure and is a further indication of the gravity of the offences committed.

“Whilst neither of the clergy in question has been permitted to function as clergy in the Diocese of Chichester since their respective arrests, the imposition of these sentences now concludes the church’s disciplinary processes.

“I hope this announcement is of some comfort to the survivors of abuse, both within the Diocese of Chichester and more widely.”

The preaching bans have been made under section 30 of the clergy discipline measure 2003.

The pair were convicted and jailed for a series of indecent assaults, including offences against children.

Dr Warner added: “Disciplinary action in relation to other persons subject to recent criminal proceedings remains ongoing and further announcements will be made in due course.”

Coles, 72, was jailed for eight years last February for sex offences against young boys. They included buggery and four indecent assaults on one victim, three indecent assaults on a second victim and three indecent assaults on a third victim.

Rideout, aged 74 last May when sentenced, of Polegate, was sentenced to ten years in prison.

He was found guilty of 36 sexual offences against 16 young girls and boys.

Thirty-four of the offences were of indecent assault on the 17 girls and boys aged between five years and their mid-teens. Thirty of those offences were committed at a now closed Barnardo’s childrens’ home, Ifield Hall, in Crawley, West Sussex, between 1965 and 1967, and four took place at an army site in Middle Wallop, Hampshire, against two girls under 13, between 1970 and 1972.

The other two offences were of the attempted rape of one of the girls at Ifield Hall between 1962 and 1966.

The pair’s offences are not connected.