Page last updated at 14:00 GMT, Wednesday, 3 September 2008 15:00 UK

Vicar admits child porn charges

The Reverend Richard Hart
The Reverend Richard Hart will be sentenced later this month

A vicar is behind bars after he admitted possessing more than 55,000 indecent pictures of children.

The Reverend Richard Hart, 59, from Horsell, Woking, is the vicar of Beguildy, near Knighton in Powys.

He admitted 12 charges of making indecent images of children, four of taking indecent images and five of possessing images on his computer.

He was remanded in custody at Cardiff Crown Court and is awaiting sentencing. He is suspended from church duties.

The court heard he had 44 images showing child sex abuse in the most serious Category 5 - with 52,240 in the least serious category, 2,419 in Category 2, a further 684 in Category 3 and 1,445 in Category 4.

The offences dated between 1991 and 2007.

He has also been suspended from his position as chairman of governors at Beguildy Church in Wales school, where his wife Julie, 40, worked part-time.

We have offered pastoral care and support to those affected and obviously the Church in Wales gives the highest priority to the care and protection to children and vulnerable members of the community
Canon Robert Jones

Defence barrister John Ryan said: "Hart is on bail but wishes to begin his time behind bars today."

He asked for a pre-sentence report to be carried out before he is given his prison term on 25 September.

Judge John Curran remanded him in custody to await sentence at Cardiff Crown Court.

Hart has been a vicar in Powys for more than 20 years.

After the case, Canon Robert Jones, the child protection officer for the Swansea and Brecon diocese of the Church in Wales, said: "We are deeply saddened and shocked that one of its clerics should plead guilty to such very serious offences involved indecent images of children.

"It is of particular concern that these offences should have occurred at a time when he held a very responsible and privileged position in one of our church communities."

'Highest priority'

In addition to the court case, the matter is also being referred to a Church in Wales disciplinary panel, who will decide if Hart can remain a priest.

Canon Jones said: "At this moment in time, our thoughts and prayers are with the children who may have been directly or indirectly affected and the wider community in which they live.

"As a church we have co-operated with the authorities throughout this inquiry and we are very grateful to the police for their very thorough investigation.

"We have offered pastoral care and support to those affected and obviously the Church in Wales gives the highest priority to the care and protection to children and vulnerable members of the community.

"We regularly review our child protection policy which came into force 10 years ago to try to eliminate the possibility of people behaving in this way.

"No matter how stringent authorities try to make their child protection policies, these things can still happen. We are making every effort to ensure the safety of children in our communities."




SEE ALSO
Vicar's wife caution over images
06 Jun 08 |  Mid Wales
Vicar in court over child images
29 May 08 |  Mid Wales
Vicar charged over child images
09 May 08 |  Mid Wales
Vicar arrest over indecent images
14 Jan 08 |  Mid Wales

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific