A DISGRACED vicar who abused victims over a period of five decades has been given a further sentence for a historic case in St Helens.

In 2020, former vicar John Roberts was jailed for a series of sexual offences against two boys and one adult, committed in the 1980s, 2000s, and 2010s.

Roberts, formerly of Cherry Vale in Liverpool, was also convicted of the sexual assault of another boy in 1989, and during a recent trial at Liverpool Crown Court, it was revealed that this pattern of abuse began in St Helens in the early 1970s.

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'Repeated pattern of abuse'

The abuse happened after Roberts became priest at St Peters Church in ParrThe abuse happened after Roberts became priest at St Peters Church in Parr (Image: Google Maps)
In a trial starting on Tuesday, May 28, prosecutor Steven Ball explained that a "repeated pattern of abuse" had taken place in the rectory, study, and lounge of St Peters Church in Parr, as well as in Roberts' car and on a trip away.

Mr Ball said that the former vicar had touched the victim’s groin area above his clothing and "kissed him as you would embrace your partner" on multiple occasions, when the victim was aged between 10 and 13.

Although the victim had reported the incidents to his mother, Mr Ball explained that she refused to acknowledge the reality of the situation, which led to the schoolboy repressing the trauma and keeping what had happened to him private.

It is only after seeing the reports of further abuse perpetrated by Roberts - who had gone on to minister at St Peter's Church in Woolton and volunteer at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral - that the victim came forward to report his abuse.

'It was you who was lying in this case'

Roberts was sentenced, via videolink, at Liverpool Crown CourtRoberts was sentenced, via videolink, at Liverpool Crown Court (Image: St Helens Star)
Despite claiming his innocence - as he had done in his previous convictions -  a jury found Roberts guilty of all five counts of indecent assault against the St Helens choirboy.

At Roberts' sentencing hearing today (Thursday, June 6), where he sat with folded arms via video link in prison, Judge Trevor-Jones said: "You have been convicted of all five counts in this indictment and you will receive no credit for a reduction, which you would have been entitled to if you had entered guilty pleas.

"This would have avoided the complainant attending court, reliving his experiences and being branded a liar, when it was you who was lying in this case."

"For a period of two to three years, you abused the victim, who was effectively under your care when you were the parish vicar.

"[The victim] was in awe of your dynamic character and personality, and of course, your authority and respect in the community.

"You befriended him and his parents [...] and your abuse of him was to become a repeated pattern of abuse as you went on to abuse other boys.

"The church clearly played a pivotal role in the life of the victim and because he was somewhat distant from his peers, you took advantage of that and you took the opportunity to abuse him."

Taking into consideration the pattern of abuse committed, the psychological harm it has had on the victim, but also the former vicar's age, ill health, and current prison time, he sentenced the 89-year-old to a further three years in prison.

This will run consecutively to the nine year sentence Roberts was served in 2020.