Paedophile priest who kept stash of child rape videos in his vicarage and was about to adopt twins is banned from Church of England for life

Daily Mail [London, United Kingdom]

February 19, 2023

By Gemma Parry

A priest who kept a stack of child porn in the vicarage and was about to adopt a set of twins has been banned from the Church of England for life. 

Tom Donaghey was banned from the church for life after police found thousands of indecent images during a raid at his former marital home in Baxenden in Blackburn Diocese, Lancashire. 

The 56-year-old, who was about to adopt young twins with his wife, was suspended from his duties at Baxenden St John Church after the raid and subsequent arrest in November 2020. 

In 2021, he was spared a prison sentence and handed down a community order after admitting three counts of making indecent images of children and one of possessing extreme pornographic images. 

Donaghey, who was also chaplain at St Christopher’s High School in Accrington, admitted his guilt to officers before any of his devices were examined. 

Police found 297 category A images, the worst kind, 468 category B images, and 2,823 category C pictures. Officers also discovered 46 images of extreme pornography, and one single moving image of category B in nature. 

Prosecuting, Alaric Bassano told Burnley Crown Court in September 2021: ‘The defendant’s wife was present when he was arrested and was shocked and distraught. 

‘He was interviewed before the devices were examined and admitted he had been downloading such imagery for about two years. 

‘He told police that at first it was just images of naturism, but then this progressed, and he began using search terms such as ‘under age’ and ‘Lolita’, and accessed images from the dark web. 

‘Donaghey said his actions were more to do with curiosity and fascination than any sexual attraction and he had been overwhelmed with guilt.’

Speaking of the images found on Donaghey’s devices, Mr Bassano added: ‘None of the images showed any children in pain but some were between the ages of three and five and in one case, under the age of 12 months. 

‘He has voluntarily undergone counselling and has said he is ashamed and disgusted of himself.’    

In court, Judge Richard Archer told Donaghey: ‘By seeking out these images you were perpetuating the cycle of child abuse. 

‘It’s not just the downloading, it’s that such downloading and viewing creates a market for such material.’ 

Donaghey was given a two year community order, told to complete 40 rehabilitation days, fined £100 and was made subject of a five year sexual harm prevention order.   

He was then given prohibition for life by the Church of England, according to the ruling by the Bishop of Blackburn, Rt Rev Julian Henderson. 

The Church said the vicar was guilty of ‘conduct unbecoming and inappropriate to the office and work of a clerk in Holy Orders’. 

In a previous statement, Rt Rev Henderson said: ‘The diocese is dismayed and deeply saddened that one of our clergy has fallen so far short of the standards expected by the Church in this way.

‘Our safeguarding team was notified when Tom Donaghey was arrested and I immediately suspended him from all ministry duties. Donaghey subsequently resigned as Vicar of Baxenden St John and now holds no role in the Church.’