Chichester Vicar Meirion Griffiths Abuse Sentence Appeal Dismissed

A former Chichester Vicar, Meirion Griffiths, has had his abuse sentence appeal dismissed.

Griffiths, 81, who was convicted of sexually abusing a woman and a teenager was jailed for eight years in February this year, after been convicted of four counts of indecent assault and following a six day trial.  He was a Church of England Vicar at St Pancras Church in Chichester at the time of the offences.

Before he was arrested he had moved to Perth in Australia from Chichester, in West Sussex, and was extradited to the UK to face justice at Portsmouth County Court.  Griffiths was found guilty of two counts of indecent assault against Julie Macfarlane, who has waived her right to anonymity.

Ms Macfarlane, was a 16 year old teenager when the abuse took place in the mid-1970s.  She described how the abuse took place on multiple occasions over a year-long period after she initially went to Griffiths to discuss doubts about her faith.

Prosecutor Richard Witcombe said Griffiths, who was married with two children, targeted Ms Macfarlane when she attended bible classes and social groups at his church.

He stated: “As a result of gaining her trust, he was able to abuse her, telling her “I was what God wanted”.”

The Court heard Griffiths abused Julie Macfarlane while teaching her to drive and during trips to the beach when he took off his clothes while swimming.

Ms Macfarlane described herself to the court as a “chaste” teenager and said she had trusted Griffiths because he was a “man of God”.  Speaking after the hearing, Ms Macfarlane recalled how “he would find a place, you know, a deserted lane, a beach, a cornfield in one case, different places where there was nobody around, and again he would force himself upon me”.

Ms Macfarlane has spoken of her relief that his sentence appeal failed and hopes the failure of his appeal will “encourage other victims and survivors to come forward”.  She said she was “delighted and relieved that justice has been done” after three judges dismissed the appeal against his sentence.

Griffiths was also convicted of two counts of indecent assault against a woman in her mid-20s in 1982.  A statement from the second victim read to the court described how she attempted to commit suicide during the abuse and continued to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  She described how “the abuse has caused profound irreparable damage and intense ongoing trauma” adding “he knew I was vulnerable but despite this he used his position to control my life”.

In a statement issued by the Diocese of Chichester when Griffiths was sentenced, it said both victims had showed “great courage in coming forward”.  The Diocese expressing its “deep sense of sorrow”, added: “All cases of sexual abuse are a great betrayal. Where it has happened, it must be brought into the light so that justice can be done.”

 

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