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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 April 2007, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Vicar denies child sex offences
Rev David Smith
Rev Smith denies all the charges
A priest accused of sexually abusing young boys over 30 years encouraged a boy to "kiss and hug" him during visits to his flat, a court has been told.

The court heard how the alleged victim, now 40, realised later Rev David Smith, 52, of St John's Road, Clevedon had taken advantage of him.

The parish priest also allegedly indulged in "play fights" with the boy.

Mr Smith denies 14 charges against seven boys. The case continues at Bristol Crown Court.

'Money lent'

The court was told how Mr Smith had taken the boy under his wing, while he was a curate in Wotton-under-Edge, Gloucestershire, in the early 1980s.

Mr Smith lent him money to spend on fruit machines and he began visiting him in his flat up to three times a week.

The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said he initially saw Mr Smith as an older brother figure for him, but then said the relationship became increasingly physical.

"I would go to leave and he would say 'Give us a cuddle or a kiss' rather than cheerio," he told the court.

"I can look back in hindsight and say that was wrong or inappropriate," he said.

Under cross examination however, he admitted lying in a police statement when he said Mr Smith had been naked during the alleged offence and said he was sometimes an "attention seeker."

Mr Smith, vicar of St John the Evangelist in Clevedon, Somerset, denies 14 charges allegedly committed against seven boys aged under 16.

He is accused of ten charges of indecent assault, two of indecency with a child, one sexual assault on a child under 13, and one of sexual activity with a child under 16.

The alleged offences date from September 1976 to May 2005 and involved seven boys under 16-years-old.

The diocese of Bath and Wells has suspended him from duty pending the outcome of the case.

The trial at Bristol Crown Court was adjourned until Wednesday.

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