Published: 16:52, 23 August 2021
| Updated: 14:15, 26 August 2021
A perverted clergyman who was allowed to return to the Church after a sexual assault conviction preyed on two more boys 40 years ago and groomed them for his own twisted sexual gratification.
Depraved David Beater, 80, sat stone-faced in the dock at Maidstone Crown Court as details of his abuse on the vulnerable victims, who were left mentally scarred, were recounted.
He was the vicar at St Botolphs and St Marks Church in Northfleet and showed one victim porn at the vicarage.
Now Beater, of Minnis Road, Birchington, has been jailed for four-and-a-half years after admitting five sex abuse charges which took place in the 1980s.
Judge Philip Statman told him: "These were profound and grave breaches of trust which cause a sense of public outrage when they are revealed.
"One of your victims is now suffering from PTSD... but he has had the bravery to come forward and has now been vindicated.
"Sexual offending leaves the greatest of scars upon its victims."
He praised both victims for their "guts" in coming forward.
Beater was convicted in 1985 of sexually abusing a teenager and later resigned after being fined £250 for the assault, a result described by a barrister as "remarkably lenient".
Astonishingly, he was later allowed back into the Church of England and continued as a clergyman until he retired in 2005.
The judge said: "It is not for me to pass judgment in that regard."
Prosecutor Sophie Shotton told how the latest offences came to light after an attack in prison involving one of the victims.
It triggered horrifying memories from his childhood when the victim's mother had taken him to see Beater because of his musical abilities.
'I considered how different my life might have been had I not been abused by David Beater...'
Under the guise of encouraging him to join the church choir, the pervert - who had "an aura or warmth" - began his abuse almost immediately.
Ms Shotton told how one sex attack resulted in the terrified child being left in physical pain as Beater assured him: "Everything will be alright."
But the victim never returned to the church and later told police he believed the pervert priest was "testing the waters" and each time they met there was more abuse.
In his statement to police he revealed the attack in prison brought back memories of Beater's attack.
"I considered how different my life might have been had I not been abused by David Beater. I felt angry. I buried the abuse and told myself that worse things happened to others.
"On reflection what he did to me has affected me throughout my life... and I even attempted to take my own life at the location where this happened."
He said that he had also lost his faith because of what he endured and has "never felt good enough".
The victim also revealed he was never able to tell his mother what the clergyman - who she thought was "amazing"- had done before she died.
Ms Shotton said the second victim was also a teenager when the sports-loving vicar encouraged him to play squash and then attacked him in the showers.
Beater ignored the child's protests, telling him he "must be clean" before taking him to the vicarage where he showed him pornography and told him he wished they could sleep together.
One of his victims attended the hearing and the second watched by video link.
Simon Taylor QC, defending, said: "At 80 years-old he is about to embark on a prison sentence for which he richly deserves."
He said the "deprived" activities "cannot be undone and caused harm for the victims."
Mr Taylor added: "He is genuinely remorseful and he has tried to rebuild his life."
The court was given a number of testimonials from his neighbours, who attested to his charity work for disaster relief.
'Many years may have passed from the time of the offending, but that does not in any way undo the harm he has caused...'
He has continued attending church services where everyone has been told of his previous conviction.
After the earlier conviction, he resigned but was "invited back" after a C of E safeguarding inquiry ruled he could rejoin the clergy, although only in parishes where there was a senior clergyman present.
After sentencing, DCI Keith Roberts, from Kent Police, said: ‘Owing to the position Beater occupied, people naturally trusted him and viewed him as a person to turn to for support. He abused this trust in the worst possible way.
"Many years may have passed from the time of the offending, but that does not in any way undo the harm he has caused.
"His offending has impacted each victim’s life in unimaginable ways and it took exceptional courage for each of them to speak to us about their ordeal.
"I am pleased Beater has now been held to account and I sincerely hope this outcome provides the victims with a sense of justice and closure.
"Anyone affected by similar offending needs to know we have specialist officers across the county who will do everything in their power to support them. Please do not suffer alone, contact us so that we can help you."
The Rt Rev Simon Burton Jones, Bishop of Tonbridge on behalf of the Diocese of Rochester, said: “We are deeply saddened and appalled by the Rev David Beater’s crimes and will be keeping all those affected by his actions in our prayers.
“The victim impact statements read out in court demonstrate the devasting and lifelong impact David Beater’s abuse has had on their lives.
“We commend the bravery of those who brought these allegations forward and acknowledge how difficult this would have been.We apologise unreservedly to them for what has happened and for what they have experienced.
“The facts of this case raise concerning questions about decisions and actions taken by the Church in relation to David’s ministry. Because of this, the matter has now been referred to the National Safeguarding Team in accordance with the House of Bishops’ guidelines.
“Mr Beater is retired and has not been in active ministry for more than 10 years.
“As a diocese, we take the safety and wellbeing of children and young people very seriously and have robust safeguarding procedures in place.
“Anyone with any concerns relating to this case, or any other safeguarding is encouraged to get in touch directly with one of our safeguarding advisers who will offer confidential support and advice - or to speak with someone else they trust."
An NSPCC spokesman said: “Beater horrifically betrayed the trust that was placed in him by his community by repeatedly abusing two young boys.
“This case shows that no matter how long ago or who it was, child abusers like Beater can be brought to justice."
Adults who wish to report historic abuse, or have concerns about a child, can phone the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, while children can contact Childline any time on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk.