A FORMER Cumbrian Canon and Reverend has been sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to child sex offences.

Ronald Johns, aged 75, of Kings Road, Coltishall, Norwich, Norfolk, was jailed at Carlisle Crown Court today over allegations relating to incidents involving three boys in Cumbria between 1983 and 1991.

Johns was a Reverend in Borrowdale from 1979 to 1989, Canon at Carlisle Cathedral from 1989 to 1994 and a Reverend at Caldbeck from 1994 to 2001.

He admitted 10 counts of indecent assault and gross indecency at a previous hearing in September.

Det Insp Gary McFadden, the investigating officer, said: “Today’s court appearance marks the end of a 12-month long police investigation which only began due to the bravery of the victims who had the strength to come forward and report what had happened to them all those years ago.

"This takes remarkable strength and they have remained our focus throughout the investigation. Many of those victims were in court today to see justice being brought by the sentence which was imposed.

“Johns abused his position of trust to commit heinous crimes against children - and now, almost 20 years on, he has received his punishment.

“Cumbria Police take allegations of sexual offences extremely seriously – no matter when the offences were committed. We would encourage any victims of crime to contact us and we will do all we can to support you and bring offenders to justice.”

A spokesperson for Carlisle Diocese said: “A prison sentence can never be a matter of pleasure, nor can it put right wrongs that were done, but the sentence given to Ronald Johns today is just and fair and reflects the gravity of his offences. “We know that those abused can be manipulated by the abuser so that they are the ones who end up feeling guilty, while the abuser attempts to excuse himself. The Diocese of Carlisle therefore hopes that Ronald Johns’ victims will feel that this sentence lays clear the truth: Ronald Johns did wicked things, which were not their fault or responsibility.

“We thank the police for all their work, those who deal with these very painful and stressful sorts of cases deserve our prays and support."

In case anyone is affected by these matters, Cumbria Police has set up a special helpline with the NSPCC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, where independent, confidential and sensitive advice can be sought. The number is 0808 800 5000 and calls are free from UK landlines. Cumbria County Council Social Care department can also offer help and advice on 0333 2401727.