Retired priest Robert Coles jailed for sexually abusing boys

Retired priest Robert Coles admitted 11 charges of sexual offences against under-age boys retired Church of England priest from East Sussex has been jailed for eight years for sexual offences against three boys aged between 10 and 16. Robert Coles, 71, of Upperton Road, Eastbourne, pleaded guilty to 11 charges of abusing boys in West Sussex, Devon, Cornwall and the Isle of Wight. Brighton Crown Court was told the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to proceed with seven other charges. The judge ordered the seven other charges to lie on the court file. The court heard former parish priest Coles, who also worked in Horsham, pleaded guilty at a hearing on 14 December to five charges against one victim and three against each of the other two. Continue reading the main story “ The systems designed to protect the survivors clearly failed” Archbishop of anterbury He was jailed for five years for the offences against the first boy and for indecent assaults on his other victims, he received two terms of 18 months. ll sentences will run consecutively. 'Systems failed' The court heard Coles disclosed he had sexually abused one of the children to senior clergy, including the then Bishop of Lewes, the Rt Rev Wallace Benn, but the information was not passed on to police. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he was "appalled" by the case. "The systems designed to protect the survivors clearly failed, their vulnerability was taken advantage of, and their lives have been deeply and in some cases permanently affected, as have the lives of those who love them," he said in a statement. Robert Coles was arrested by Sussex Police, last March.

"I believe that the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults should be the highest priority of all parts of the Church, and that any failings in this area must be immediately reported to the police. "I repeat what I have said before and, on behalf of the Church, apologise with deep grief for the betrayals and failings that occurred." "My priority as Archbishop of Canterbury is to prevent future failings of this kind happening again." 'Admire courage' Sussex Police said there was nothing to suggest any children were currently at risk. Det Insp Jez Prior said detectives admired the courage of Coles's victims in coming forward and being prepared to give evidence against him. "We continue to encourage people wishing to report offences to contact us, regardless of how long ago alleged offending took place," he said. "In carrying out this investigation we also received full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester." Coles was also served with a sexual offences prevention order prohibiting him from unsupervised contact with boys under 16, and from seeking any employment or voluntary work with children under 16. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for life, on his release from prison. Coles was arrested last March following a six-month investigation by Sussex Police. We understand that it is not unusual for those who were subject to abuse to come forward later in life. If you or somebody you know were subject to abuse please do not hesitate to contact Charles Derham our specialist child abuse solicitor. We will treat any communications with the strictest of confidence.


Charles has considerable specialist experience in pursuing claims for compensation for those who have been abused in childhood. His specific expertise means that he is recognised locally, nationally and internationally for his work which has taken him all over the world including, USA, Australia and New Zealand.

He is also recognised for his significant involvement in the high profile litigation against St Georges School (Anglemoss Limited) and Cyntwell High School. These cases involved a staggering number of individuals who pursued those responsible whom despite heavily defending the claims brought against them settled by way of out of court settlements.

Charles regularly features in local and national press and he is often asked to provide his professional opinion and commentary on relevant abuse law issues and developments on radio and television broadcasts. Such broadcasts include BBC South Today, BBC Wales, ITV and ITN News.

Charles is a member of the Association of Child Abuse Lawyers.

You can follow Charles on Twitter and Facebook.

Charles obtained his Law degree at Kingston University, before successfully completing his Legal Practice Course. He trained and qualified with Verisona Law beginning his specialism in the field of child abuse claims. He received his higher rights of Audience in 2012 making him one of the youngest Solicitor-Advocates in the country who is able to represent his clients in the High Court. Charles is head of the abuse team who collectively have secured compensation for hundreds of victims of abuse.

He began diversifying in to other aspects of abuse law and his team are one of the very few in the country who specialise in claims against social services.

He is involved in complex group action litigation and also represents a number of individuals and who are pursuing private companies, local authorities and perpetrators in pursuit of their justice.

Charles has strong contacts with some of the most prominent barristers who advise on abuse claims including a number of QC’s. He also has robust connections with highly qualified expert witnesses he instructs in support of those who he represents.

  • Child abuse claims
  • Claims against social services
  • Complex/Catastrophic Clinical Negligence claims

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