Retired Eastbourne priest receives further prison sentence for historic sex offences

Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne.'PICTURE SUPPLIED BY SUSSEX POLICE ENGSUS00120130214165004
Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne.'PICTURE SUPPLIED BY SUSSEX POLICE ENGSUS00120130214165004

A retired priest from Eastbourne, Robert Coles, has been sentenced to sixteen months imprisonment after admitting sex offences against a young boy in Portslade between 38 and 41 years ago.

He is already serving an eight-year sentence for similar offences against three other young boys in West Sussex between 31 and 38 years ago.

The 16-month sentence will run consecutively to that eight-year sentence.

Coles, 74, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, a now retired Church of England priest, pleaded guilty at Hove Crown Court on Friday (June 12) to eight offences of indecent assault against a boy then aged under 16, between 1974 and 1977 - all at a vicarage where Coles formerly lived and worked in Foredown Drive, Portslade.

Coles is already in prison, serving an eight-year sentence imposed at Brighton Crown Court on February 14 2013 having pleaded guilty to 11 offences, ie; one offence of buggery and four indecent assaults against a boy at a location in Chichester between 1982 and 1984, two of indecent assault of the same boy between 1982 and 1983, and to three indecent assaults against each of two other boys in West Sussex and elsewhere, between 1978 and 1979.

The newly reported offences took place when the boy, who did not live in Sussex, visited Coles’ vicarage with other members of his family and stayed overnight.

Detective Inspector Jez Prior said, “Coles first conviction and sentencing two years ago was the culmination of a long and complex investigation, following information we received from the Diocese of Chichester, who have given their full co-operation throughout that case and the latest case. We were glad to be able to achieve justice for those three victims.

“But following the media coverage given to that case, the latest victim, now in his early fifties, felt he had to come forward and disclose what had happened to him. The CPS agreed that it was in the public interest to bring these offences before the court, and evidence was so clear that Coles had no choice but to admit his guilt.

“We admire the courage of victims who summon up the resolve, however long after the events concerned, to provide evidence and to be ready to give it and if necessary face giving that evidence and facing cross-examination in court.

“We will always take such reports seriously and we will investigate and recommend prosecution whenever the circumstances merit it.”

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