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Thursday, 21 November, 2002, 13:38 GMT
Priest jailed for five years
Michael Hill
Michael Hill was chaplain at Gatwick Airport
A Roman Catholic priest who abused boys in his care has been jailed for five years.

Michael Hill was sentenced at the Old Bailey after admitting a series of sex assaults.

The former chaplain of Gatwick Airport pleaded guilty to six charges of indecent assault on three boys aged between 10 and 14.

Sentencing him, Judge Christopher Moss said he could not imagine a more serious breach of trust and called his crimes "disgraceful and disgusting".


You employed a considerable degree of planning and cunning in gaining the trust of the parents of the children you abused

Judge Christopher Moss

Hill, 68, from Lingfield in Surrey - who resigned from the priesthood in 1996 - was jailed for five years in 1997 for 10 offences against eight boys.

He was freed on parole in 2000.

The judge said Hill was "a practising and predatory paedophile who used the vestments of priesthood to disguise your true character".

He told Hill: "You employed a considerable degree of planning and cunning in gaining the trust of the parents of the children you abused.

"I can think of no greater or appalling breach of trust."

Hill had pleaded guilty on Monday to the six charges spanning the years between 1969 and 1987.

A further eight charges involving three victims were ordered to remain on the file.

Sexual gratification

Hill showed no emotion as he was taken to the cells.

Judge Moss told him that his past offences amounted to nearly 20 years of abuse.

He told him: "You yourself admitted that you found sexual gratification in having boys around you.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
The cardinal regrets appointing Hill
"At one time, your view was that children sometimes enjoyed sexual contact with adults."

The prosecutor David Jeremy told the court Hill had abused children throughout his ministry.

Mr Jeremy said Hill had gained the trust of victims' parents and many of his youngsters had since suffered from behavioural problems.

Hill's defence lawyer Tony Loader asked the judge not to send Hill back to prison.

He said the former priest was not in good health and had suffered heart problems.

However, the judge disagreed and said to Hill: "Had the full extent and scope of your offending against children been apparent to the judge in 1997, the sentence would have been quite different."

Temporary suspension

The Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, has apologised to Hill's victims.

He said: "I am deeply sorry for the damage he has done, and to the extent that my decision contributed to any of the damage."

In 1985, the Cardinal, who was then Bishop of the Arundel and Brighton Diocese, allowed Hill to work as chaplain at Gatwick Airport.

Hill had been temporarily suspended after concerns over his attraction to children.

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The BBC's Richard Lister
"This was his second conviction"

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