4th Dec, 2016

Worker escapes jail after indecent assault in Coventry church

Chris Willmott 4th May, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A DISGRACED former church worker who has already served two jail terms for sex offences has escaped being jailed for a third time for indecency with two boys in the late 80s.

Francis Ward had pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to six charges of indecently assaulting one boy at a Catholic church in Coventry and one of indecently assaulting another boy.

Despite his previous convictions for similar offences Ward (65) of Granville Square, Edgbaston, Birmingham, was given a community sentence with supervision for three years.

Judge Andrew Lockhart QC also ordered Ward to take part in a three-year sex offender group work programme and to register as a sex offender for five years.

Prosecutor Paul Mytton said the offences took place between 1985 and 1991 at a time when Ward was a volunteer worker at All Souls RC church in in Kingsland Avenue, Coventry.

His role brought him into contact with young boys at the church, and he took advantage of that to indecently assault his two victims.

There was a single incident involving one boy who was aged about seven at the time when Ward lifted him up onto a pew, touching his body between his navel and his genitals with the back of his hand as he did so.

The victim, who described it as ‘fumbling,’ said that after doing so, Ward then walked away.

That matter only came to light after the second victim finally went to the police in November 2014.

He revealed he had been ‘interfered with’ by Ward on a number of occasions at All Souls from when he was about eight years old, said Mr Mytton.

Usually Ward, who sometimes appeared to be angry to get the boy’s co-operation, would use the back of his hands to quickly touch his genitals over his clothing.

The boy thought it was ‘weird’ but, being so young, did not really understand what was happening.

Following that victim’s complaint Ward was arrested and interviewed in December 2014, and again in January last year in relation to the other boy, but on both occasions made no comment.

Mr Mytton said that during the period covered by the offences, Ward had also sexually abused another boy on a number of occasions while visiting his family’s home.

As a result of those offences he was jailed for 18 months in 1991 and dismissed from working at All Souls.

Between 1988 and 1999 Ward was a server at a Catholic church he attended in Handsworth, Birmingham, where he grabbed a girl and squeezed her breasts, which led to him then being jailed for six months in 2003.

Mr Mytton added that Ward also approached and indecently assaulted a woman he did not know in the street in 1999, for which he was put on probation for three years.