Former Grimsby priest jailed for sexually assaulting boys

BBC [London, England]

December 23, 2022

A former Grimsby priest has been jailed for the “systematic abuse” of six boys over a 21-year period.

Terence Atkinson, 70, was convicted of nine counts of indecent assault after a trial at Lincoln Crown Court.

During his trial jurors heard Atkinson volunteered at youth and church groups, including the Shalom Youth Centre, and was later ordained as a minister.

Passing a sentence of 10 years, Judge Simon Hirst told Atkinson he had abused his position of trust.

Prosecutor David Webster told the court Atkinson sexually assaulted his victims between 1978 and 1999.

The court heard he would invite boys back to his home and use strategies such as lifting them up to read his electric meter and measuring them for football kits to touch them inappropriately.

“He betrayed the trust of these young boys and abused them,” the barrister said.

‘Lasting damage’

The court also heard statements from some of Atkinson’s victims, some of whom said they had felt guilty for not reporting what happened earlier.

But Judge Hirst told the court the responsibility for what happened was “entirely down” to the defendant.

“The responsibility is yours alone,” he told Atkinson.

Some of his victims had also suffered with low mood and anxiety, the court was told.

“It is clear that each victim has been affected in different ways,” the judge said, adding that Atkinson had caused “real and lasting damage”.

The judge said Atkinson had systematically abused his victims “for no other reason than to obtain sexual gratification for yourself”.

The allegations first came to light in the 1980s and 1990s but, when first investigated, Atkinson denied the allegations.

He was questioned again in 2019 and later charged, which resulted in more victims coming forward after the case was publicised.

One of the victims had died since the offending but Atkinson was still found guilty of abusing him.

Atkinson, previously of Tetney Road, Humberston, was also made the subject of sexual harm prevention order and banned from working with children for life.