Pervert Whitley Bay vicar jailed for eight years for historic sex offences against a boy
By Craig Thompson
March 16, 2016
|The sign outside New Scotland Yard|
Photo by Dominic Lipinski
A pervert vicar has been jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to four counts of indecent assault against a boy in the 1970s.
Trusted Leonard Skinner, 79, has brought shame on the church after he admitted the offences covering a four-year period.
Skinner, of Brighton Grove in Whitley Bay, was convicted of four counts of indecent assault against the same boy while he worked in the south of England.
The pensioner, who moved to North Tyneside following his retirement, was sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court in London. He had pleaded guilty on February 11 at Highbury Magistrates’ Court to two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged under 14 and two counts of indecent assault on a boy aged under 16.
Skinner was jailed for eight years for the count of indecent assault on a boy aged 12, and six years each for the other three counts of indecent assault on a boy aged 13, 14 and 15. All sentences are to run concurrently.
The pensioner must also remain on the sex offenders’ register for life.
The court heard that Skinner, who had been working as a vicar in Grange Park, Enfield, between January 1970 and May 1980, befriended a child and over a period of time gained his trust. Skinner abused him on numerous occasions between January 1972 and June 1975.
A third party reported the allegations against Skinner to police in October 2015 and detectives from the Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command began investigating.
Skinner was interviewed under caution on 24 November 2015 and charged on 28 January 2016.
Detective Constable Jon Ritsema, from the Metropolitan Police’s Sexual Offences, Exploitation and Child Abuse Command, said: “Skinner used his role in a position of trust, as well as his friendly demeanour, to gain access to his victim.
“I would like to pay tribute to the courage of the victim in speaking out against Skinner. It was his testimonial that secured the charges and enabled this case to be brought to court.”
Following his admissions, church leaders in the North East issued an apology and appealed for any further victims to come forward.
The Archdeacon of Northumberland, the Venerable Geoff Miller, said: “We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor of the appalling abuse by the Reverend Leonard Skinner and acknowledge their courage in coming forward.
“The Diocese of Newcastle treats all allegations of sexual abuse with the utmost seriousness and expects the highest standards from its clergy, including in retirement.
“As soon as the diocese was told that Leonard Skinner was under investigation by the Metropolitan Police, he was immediately prevented from carrying out any further duties in church.
“Leonard Skinner moved to North Tyneside after he retired from his last post as Priest-in-Charge of a parish in 2001.
“In line with common practice for retired clergy, he was given the Bishop of Newcastle’s ‘Permission to Officiate’, meaning that he was authorised to lead worship in support of the full-time clergy in local parishes.”