A former member of the clergy has been sentenced for sexually abusing a boy in Warrington more than 40 years ago.
Gordon Dickenson, who had previously pleaded guilty to eight counts of sexual activity with a child, was jailed for a total of 27 months during a hearing at Liverpool Crown Court today (Friday 15 March).
The case dates back to 1974. The 89-year-old preyed on his young victim when he was a teenager (aged 12 and 13). At that time Dickenson was working as a Reverend within the Church of England in the parish of Latchford.
Detective Inspector Nigel Reid, who was in charge of the investigation, said: “Dickenson preyed on the vulnerability of his young victim for his own sexual gratification betraying the trust of a child.
“He committed these terrible offences whilst in a position of trust. It has only been through the strength and bravery of the victim, who has had to live with what happened to him for many years that the abuse has come to light and Dickenson has been held to account for his actions.
“Today Dickenson has been handed a custodial sentence. This reinforces how seriously police and the courts take incidents of this nature. It also sends a clear message that anyone who commits offences against children are not above the law and they will be brought to justice and could face a custodial sentence, regardless of how long ago that abuse took place.”
This case came to light in 2017 after Cheshire Constabulary published a report into the findings of an investigation into allegations of non-recent sexual abuse made against a former Bishop of Chester. Operation
Coverage focused on allegations made against the late Bishop Hubert Victor Whitsey, dating back to the 1970s and 1980s.
Once the report was published, information was passed onto police on the back of this and this sparked an investigation by the force.
In June 2018 Dickenson, who lives in Crewe, was interviewed under caution and later summonsed to court for the eight offences.
DI Reid added: “This case came to light through Operation Coverage. Without that report being published and the subsequent information that was passed onto us, Dickenson may never have been identified and then brought to justice for the terrible abuse he put his victim through.
“This has been a difficult and protracted police investigation but it carries an important message – if you are a victim of abuse it doesn’t matter how long ago it took place, what matters is finding the courage to come forward and talk about it. It is important for the victim’s voice to be heard and this case highlights the fact that anyone who commits offences against children are not above the law.
“I would personally like to thank the victim for his strength, understanding and the support he has provided throughout the investigation. I hope the conclusion of this case brings some understanding and closure to what has been an extremely emotional and traumatic time and gives others who may have suffered in silence the courage to speak out about it.”
Martin McRobb, a specialist sexual offences prosecutor with Mersey Cheshire Crown Prosecution Service, said: “The Crown Prosecution Service has worked closely with the specialist investigating officers from Cheshire Police in this difficult and sensitive case.
“It is a sad reality that sex offenders and particularly those who target children can be found in all walks of life. It is nevertheless very disturbing to discover that someone who would have been so respected in his life as a local vicar could have committed such acts of sexual abuse upon a young boy in his community.
“The message to such offenders is that no profession or position of public prominence will ever provide a safe haven for criminal behaviour. Whoever you are and whatever you do, if you offend you will be brought to justice.
“The Crown Prosecution Service would like to pay tribute to the huge courage shown by the victim in this case. He has lived all his life affected by the mental scars of Gordon Dickenson’s appalling conduct. Without his support and assistance, justice in this case could not have been done.”
If you have been the victim of sexual abuse – no matter how long it took place – or have information in relation to sexual offences you can contact Cheshire Police on 101. Information can also be passed on anonymously, via Crimestoppers, on 0800 555 111.