April 2009

Preacher jailed for molesting young girl

A FORMER Harrow preacher who molested two ten-year-old girls, including one in Barnet, has been jailed.

Paedophile Charles Morris abused two girls in a “serious breach of trust” and was sentenced to four months at Harrow Crown Court today.

He rubbed the breasts of one of the girls over her clothes as she sat on his lap and read in 2008.

The incident was reported and police raided his home in Malpas Drive in June last year, finding evidence the 57-year-old has scoured the internet in search of child porn.

He had previously in 2005 tried to touch the breasts of an autistic girl he had been trusted to look after.

While lying on a bed with her and another girl, Morris tried to grope her breasts but the girl recoiled and pushed him away.

Both families of the girls who Morris molested sent letters to Harrow Crown Court pleading with the judge to spare Morris a jail term and said they were trying to forgive him for what he had done.

But Judge Graham Arran told Morris today there had been a “serious breaches of trust”, and he had no option but to jail him for four months.

Morris, a former district Preacher across Methodist churches in Hillingdon and Harrow, was forced to step down from his roles as treasurer at Pinner Parish Church and secretary of the Methodist church circuit after his arrest.

He has been banished from Pinner Methodist Church because of his crimes, and Sarah Ellis, defending him, said: “It is very difficult to describe how much this has affected him.

“He will never be in a position to be with young children on his own again. He has lost the ability to work within the church and to attend church at all.”

The court room was packed with supporters of Morris, including his wife and one of his two sons, and several people had sent letters supporting his claims to be of “good character”.

Ms Ellis said: “He has developed an unhealthy interest, and on two occasions he succumbed to temptation.

“He is someone who has taken responsibility for what he has done, and he is willing to address the problem he has accepted he has.”

The court heard Morris was made redundant from his job with Kodak in 2002, and he found it difficult to find fulfilling work afterwards.

He threw himself into his work as a lay preacher and met one of the families of the girls through his church work.

Since his arrest and conviction, Morris’ wife, who has supported him throughout the court proceedings, has been prescribed anti-depressants and sought counselling to help her deal with what has happened.

Judge Arran, jailing Morris, told him: “You are obviously a man with a great deal of good in you, you have done good over the years and no doubt in future you will continue to do so.

“But both incidents involved a serious breach of trust and I have the public interest to consider.

“I am, however, confident you will commit no further offences.”

Morris will serve two months in jail and the rest on licence, and will be made to sign the Sex Offenders Register.

Police will be able to monitor his activities and computer use for the next five years, and he is banned from contact with children under the age of 16 unless there is a parent or responsible adult present.