A VICAR who sexually abused a boy at a church in Latchford has been jailed.

Charles ‘Gordon’ Dickenson’s string of abuse at Christ Church Latchford in the 1970s was twice covered up by the Church of England.

Decades later, the 89-year-old has finally been brought to justice and he will now serve 27 months behind bars.

Liverpool Crown Court heard today, Friday, that Dickenson sexually assaulted the boy - who was aged 12 and 13 at the time of the attacks - on four occasions in the church hall and vicarage of the Wash Lane site.

Warrington Guardian:

Christ Church Latchford

On the first occasion, Dickenson - who was in his early 40s at the time - lured his victim into the basement of the church hall during a Saturday night dance it was hosting, telling him there was a problem with the boiler.

But the vicar sexually assaulted the boy and forced him to perform indecent acts, before telling him that ‘he hoped he enjoy it, but not to tell anyone about it’.

Weeks later, the boy dropped decorations off at the vicarage as the church was preparing for Warrington Walking Day.

Dickenson took him into a side room and locked the door before attacking him again, with the assault only stopping when the vicar’s wife called his name.

The defendant then told his victim: "I miss seeing you around, I hope you are not avoiding me."

A third incident then took place in the private sacristy, after Dickenson lured the boy into the back entrance of the church by telling him other parishioners were inside.

On another occasion, the vicar approached his victim in the church’s toilets and sexually assaulted him.

Dickenson, from Crewe, admitted eight counts of indecent assault during an earlier court hearing and was jailed this afternoon by judge Steven Everett.

Warrington Guardian:

Charles 'Gordon' Dickenson

Sentencing, judge Everett said: “You were a priest in your early 40s, and this child was not even a teenager.

“For your perverted desires, you took advantage of that little boy.

“It beggars belief that somebody calling themselves a man of God would do these terrible things.

“There are so many things wrong with what you did, but the main thing is the terrible abuse of that little boy.

“The fact is that you are a man of God and this took place in a church, the same church where you took vows to preach the gospel to your flock and be a role model to them.

“You weren’t a role model at all, and I don’t actually detect much remorse.”

Dickenson’s crimes only came to light when Cheshire Police opened an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse under the former Bishop of Chester Victor Whitsey.

Warrington Guardian:

Former Bishop of Chester Victor Whitsey

Officers came across a complaint lodged against the vicar - who brought a packed suitcase with him to court and walked with the aid of a frame - which the church had failed to act upon and approached the victim in September 2017.

This was the first time he had spoken about the abuse, adding that he had ‘buried away a dirty secret’.

When confronted by the church warden following the abuse, Dickenson admitted: “I interfered and succumbed to temptation.”

Warrington Guardian:

But the bishop ‘made him promise never to do it again’, and despite his predatory behaviour the vicar was even promoted to a higher position in another parish.

Dickenson - who is now in the early stages of dementia - was appointed as a bishop’s chaplain and worked for another 20 years before retiring in 1994.

Another opportunity to investigate the abuse was missed in 2009, and he continued to officiate services until 2014.

Judge Everett added: “I’ve little doubt you thought you could do whatever you wanted and nobody would stop you, because nobody would believe him if he said anything.

“In reality, he never felt able to tell anybody, and this only came to light after an entirely different investigation.

“It appears you made a confession in 2009, but even then nothing happened.

“This had a huge effect on that boy - there was nothing for him to be ashamed of, but he felt ashamed and he wasn’t able to tell anybody until 2017.

“He has gone through his whole life trying to block it out - it is something that has been with him all of his life as a direct result of what you did.

“There was a significant degree of planning, grooming behaviour against your victim and an abuse of trust.

“Those who attempt to do these things must realise that the long arm of the law will catch up with them, even many years later.”

Warrington Guardian:

Dickenson will serve half of his 27-month sentence behind bars before being released on licence.

Judge Everett added that, had these offences been committed today, the defendant would have been handed a jail sentence of around six years.

He was also ordered the sign the sex offenders register for life, permanently barred from working with children and told to pay a victim surcharge.

After Dickenson had been led down to the cells, judge Everett told the victim: “There is no real comfort for you in what has happened, but I hope you can take some comfort from the fact that he has admitted what he did.

“In my experience, this is an important feature.

“I often read that victims in these cases feel shame, but the reality is that there is only one person who should feel shame - the perpetrator, not the victim.”


The NSPCC says that Dickenson was 'bolstered' the Church of England's failings.

A charity spokesman said: “Dickenson’s arrogance in believing that he would get away with this awful abuse was bolstered by the Diocese of Chester’s failure to act.

“While this apology is important, it’s vital that lessons are learned.

"Child abuse can ruin lives, and it is so important that when survivors bravely come forward they know they will be listened to and action taken against the perpetrators.

“We hope that the victim in this case is given every support to heal, and that the justice he has finally received sends a message to others that they can come forward and that they will be listened to.”


Earlier this month, the Church of England apologised for not acting on the allegations of Dickenson’s abuse.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Chester said: “We offer an unreserved apology to the survivor.

“He has shown bravery and courage to share his experiences with the police, and we acknowledge how difficult and distressing this must have been for him.

“The Diocese of Chester has provided full cooperation with the police throughout the current investigation, and anyone affected by today’s news should contact the diocesan safeguarding adviser.

“Information brought to light to the church in 2009, if acted upon then, may have led to the police bringing a prosecution against Gordon Dickenson much sooner.

“The Diocese apologises for not acting on this information in 2009.

“A review will now be conducted into the handling of the case, to identify where any failures in procedures arose and what lessons can be learned.”

For help and support, children can contact ChildLine 24 hours a day 365 days a year on 0800 1111 or by visiting www.childline.org.uk.

Adults with concerns about a child can contact the NSPCC helpline in confidence on 0800 808 5000 or via help@nspcc.org.uk.