Retired archdeacon appears at crown court over historic sex abuse allegations

By Bruce Unwin
Durham Times
July 1, 2015

CHARGED: The Venerable Granville Gibson, 79, to stand trial at Durham Crown Court over historic sex abuse allegations in New Year.

A FORMER senior clergyman has appeared at crown court for the first time in relation to historic sex allegations.

The Venerable George Granville Gibson, who previously served as Archdeacon of Auckland, one of the leading posts in the Durham diocese of the Church of England, faces a total of eight charges dating from the late 1970s and early 80s.

Following an initial hearing at South Durham Magistrates’ Court in Newton Aycliffe, last month (June 17), district judge Stephen Harmes sent the case involving the 79-year-old former church minister to Durham Crown Court.

During a short preliminary hearing at the crown court today (Wednesday July 1), the charges were not put to Mr Gibson, but arrangements were made for future proceedings in the case.

Anthony Dunne, prosecuting, said the offences related to two complainants, both of whom were said to be teenagers at the time, on dates between 1977 and 1983.

“I understand the matters will be completely denied and so a timetable can be set,” said Mr Dunne.

A date of Monday October 5 was agreed for a plea and case management hearing, when trial defence counsel Andrew Stubbs QC, will be available to attend.

The trial, to be staged at the court, is expected to run for at least five days, with a start date agreed for Monday January 11.

Mr Gibson, of West Crescent, Darlington, was initially arrested in April 2014 and, following lengthy investigations, was charged on May 7 this year.

The charges include three counts of indecent assault and one of buggery on a man aged 16 or over, in Newton Aycliffe, and the Consett area, between 1977 and 78.

He has also been charged with four counts of indecent assault on a second alleged victim, in Newton Aycliffe, between October 1979 and October 1983.

Judge Christopher Prince adjourned the hearing and bailed Mr Gibson to return for the October 5 hearing.

Following his previous court appearance the Durham diocese issued a statement confirming the now retired clergyman was facing historical sexual abuse offences.

It added: “This matter is being dealt with under judicial process and so it would not be appropriate for us to comment in any way that may prejudice that work.

“We will not be making any additional comments or statements on this court case or the circumstances surrounding it.”

During his clerical career, Mr Gibson, a former mining engineer, was a curate in Cullercoats, North Tyneside, vicar in both Cramlington, Northumberland, and Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, before serving as Archdeacon of Auckland from 1993 - 2001.


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