Priest escapes jail in child porn shame

A FORMER Suffolk priest who downloaded sickening images of child abuse from the internet has escaped a prison sentence.Roman Catholic Father Neil Crayden, 47, had already been removed from his parish after indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy when he was caught with the child pornography.

A FORMER Suffolk priest who downloaded sickening images of child abuse from the internet has escaped a prison sentence.

Roman Catholic Father Neil Crayden, 47, had already been removed from his parish after indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy when he was caught with the child pornography.

Former teacher Crayden was trapped by the police's Operation Ore because he had paid by credit card to use an American website which distributed pictures of children being abused.

Crayden is a former chaplain at the University of East Anglia and had been a priest at Brandon and Haverhill in Suffolk.


You may also want to watch:


The parish priest of St Felix Catholic Church in Haverhill, Father Michael Teader, said: "Myself and all our people are shocked and distressed by what has happened."

During his time as a serving priest he had been an adviser on religious education to his diocese in East Anglia.

Most Read

He is still ordained in the church and living at a Roman Catholic rectory despite having been cautioned for the indecent assault on a young parishioner in August 2001.

He had been moved from his parish in Norwich and was living in Plymouth – but was not acting as a priest – when he was arrested in December last year.

He did not own a computer when detectives raided his home on December 30 last year but they found six pictures on a floppy disk, which they seized.

Exeter magistrates were told that two of the images were rated at level four of a five-point scale, which means they showed children having sex with adults.

Crayden, of The Rectory, Hills Road, Cambridge, admitted receiving child pornography from Texas-based Landslide Productions in 1999 and six charges of possessing indecent images of children.

He was ordered to undergo a sex offender's programme as part of a three-year community rehabilitation order and told to pay £58 costs.

Magistrates chairman Carol Maden said: "You were in a position of trust with vulnerable people around and you have a previous history of offences involving young males.

"However there was no interaction with the subjects of these photographs and you did not distribute them and you are seeking help from a psychotherapist."

Nick Fryer, prosecuting, said Crayden was traced through his credit card after the FBI tipped off the National Crime Intelligence Service in Britain.

"When interviewed he told police he obtained the pictures from Landslide but was not forthcoming about his reasons why. He eventually said he had done it for his own sexual gratification."

Mr Fryer said Crayden was convicted in 1979 for indecently assaulting a man over 16 and cautioned in 2001 for indecently assaulting a 15-year-old boy who was a parishioner.

John Smethhurst, defending, said Crayden deleted the images soon after downloading them but they had been found by sophisticated computer software.

He said Crayden was removed from his parish after being cautioned in 2001 for an offence which dated back to 1995 and had taken steps to avoid any further offending, including not owning a computer.

He said: "He realises what he has done is in his own words disgusting and completely unacceptable. He has deep feelings of remorse and he knows he needs help."

Last night, Bishop Michael Evans, Bishop of East Anglia, said: "Any form of abuse of children, including child pornography, is something we can never tolerate as Christians and it is always sad when a priest is involved.

"Children are always damaged in some way by such abuse and the charges brought against Neil Crayden will cause deep concern to many people in our diocese, especially in those places where he served as a priest.

"He has cooperated fully with the police. His future as a Catholic priest is now subject to due process within the procedures of the church and we will keep him in our prayers and care.

"All I can do now is apologise most profoundly for the damage he had done and renew the commitment of the diocese to do all we can to ensure that children, young people and vulnerable adults are always completely safe, as well as welcomed and loved, within the life of our church."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter