Former ‘larger than life, cigar smoking’ Peterborough priest jailed for abuse of children

Peterborough Telegraph [Peterborough, UK]

March 8, 2023

By Stephen Briggs

“I have lost faith in the Catholic Church as I question how a man of God could do these things.”

A ‘larger than life, cigar smoking’ former Peterborough priest has been jailed for six and a half years after being found guilty of child abuse.

Dennis Finbow served in as a priest in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough in the 1980s – but behind his trusted persona, he was a paedophile, who preyed on a young girl. Now he is behind bars after being found guilty of three counts of indecent assault on a child.

Finbow (74) of Bealings Road, Martlesham, Suffolk, was found guilty of the offences – which date back to the 1980s when he was a priest in Peterborough – at a trial in January.

Appearing at Cambridge Crown Court today (March 8), Finbow, wearing a blue sweatshirt, sat arms crossed in the dock as he was jailed.

Charles Myatt, prosecuting, read a statement from Finbow’s victim.

‘He lived a secret life as a paedophile’

The statement said: “I was a happy child, with a close family, and I trusted men, with lots of positive male role models – that all changed when Father Dennis came into my life.”

She added: “He was a larger than life, cigar smoking priest who said he was supporting children’s charities – but he lived a secret life as a paedophile.”

The victim said she was still receiving counselling for the harm caused by Finbow’s offending.

She said: “I have frequent flashbacks and triggers. I do not sleep well. I have lost faith in the Catholic Church as I question how a man of God could do these things.”

The court was told Finbow was being treated for cancer – and Judge Philip Grey said he would take that into account.

‘Offences particularly heinous’ due to position of trust’

But he said Finbow’s actions would cause life long trauma to his victim. He added: “For any adult to do this would be disgusting, but for you, in a position of trust in your role in the community, it is particularly heinous.”

Judge Grey also said that for many years, child victims of sexual would often not be believed – but now ‘those days are thankfully over’ and a message needed to go out that those who sexually abuse children would get severe sentences.

Along with the six and a half year jail sentence – half of which will be served behind bars, and the other half in the community on licence – Finbow will have to sign the sex offenders register for the rest of his life, and has been barred from working with children or vulnerable groups.

‘Thoughts and prayers with victims of secual abuse’

Following his conviction, Rt Rev Peter Collins, Bishop of East Anglia said: “The safeguarding of children and vulnerable people is of paramount importance to the Catholic Church and the Diocese of East Anglia has co-operated fully with the police and other statutory authorities throughout this investigation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim in this case and also other victims of child sexual abuse.

“Should anyone have any concerns or queries about the Dennis Finbow case then I would encourage them to contact Mick Thurley, our Diocesan Safeguarding Coordinator on 07429 215344.”