Ex-Northamptonshire vicar jailed for downloading pictures and movie clips of children and babies being raped

A disgraced Northamptonshire rector who downloaded pictures and movie clips of children and babies being raped and fantasised about having sex with a young girl has been jailed.

Thursday, 12th December 2019, 11:24 am
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 11:43 am
Christopher Goble outside Warwick Crown Court.

Christopher Goble had already pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court to three charges of making indecent images of children.

Between 2002 and 2008, he served as a priest in an area of the Diocese of Peterborough, as rector of Brington with Whilton, Norton, Church Brampton with Chapel Brampton, Harlestone and East Haddon and Holdenby.

When he returned to the court to be sentenced for those pictures on his phone, the court heard that more images had been discovered on other devices.

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The disgraced cleric then pleaded guilty to three amended charges detailing larger numbers of images and to two further charges of possessing extreme pornography and prohibited images.

Goble, 44, of The Rectory, Valenders Lane, Ilmington, at the time, but recently living at The Brambles, Oswestry, was jailed for 20 months and ordered to register as a sex offender for ten years.

Prosecutor Adrian Fleming said that on October 1 the police executed a search warrant at Goble’s address in Ilmington and asked for his phone.

“He claimed he had lost it two days previously, but it was in fact in his trouser pocket.

“It had a hidden photo gallery with a large number of pornographic images, of which a significant proportion were of children,” said Mr Fleming.

Other devices were seized, including three laptops, and altogether the police found 1,701 indecent images of children. Of those, 627 stills and movies were classed as being in category A.

Judge Sylvia de Bertodano added: “These are very young children, going down to about one year old, and we are talking about getting on for 2,000 images.

Mr Fleming said there were also 17 moving and still images of adult females involved in sex acts with dogs and horses, and six prohibited images depicting children in sexual activity.

At Mr Fleming’s request, the judge ordered the destruction of the three laptops and five iPhones, including four older ones which the police had not been able to get into.

Mr Fleming added that Goble had made a number of internet searches indicating his sexual interest in children.

He had also exchanged messages with another person in which he talked about abusing a young girl, the court heard.

Naomi Perry, defending, said: “What is not conveyed by the [pre-sentence] report is the depth of remorse he feels and the insight he has gained into the man who was doing that, and the man he would like to get back to being.”

She said Goble had undertaken online courses with the Lucy Faithful Foundation, which works with sex offenders, and another organisation in an attempt at rehabilitation.

“The writer of the report says he should have been doing that sooner, and of course he should not have been doing what he was doing at all.”

Although she made no reference to what it was, Miss Perry pointed out: “There is no question of him being able to resume his occupation. He has lost everything.

“Other people in perhaps a less high-profile, or less the nature of the work, can go back to doing their job.”

Asking the judge to pass a suspended sentence, she said Goble had also lost his family, and no longer sees his three children, adding: “As a result of what he knows was an aberration, he has lost everything, his work and his life.”

Jailing Goble, Judge de Bertodano told him: “Over 600 of those images were at the most serious category, and there were getting on for nearly 2,000 in total.

“They were of the most serious sort because they included images of the rape of very young children and babies. It was a collection you had built up over a period of about five years.

“These are serious offences. People sometimes think that because it is just looking at pictures other people have made, you are not doing anything very seriously wrong.

“But what you are looking at are pictures of real children being horrifically abused.

“Those pictures are created for a market, and it is a market which has an endless appetite for new images of abuse – and that is why people go on making these images and, as a result, go on abusing children.

“You have made a real contribution to the horrific abuse of the children in these pictures.

“You are not the sort of man anyone would expect to offend in this way. You were not only a man of good character, your profession makes you a person respected in the community as a figure not just of authority, but of moral authority.

“That fact makes it even more shocking that someone in your position should offend against such vulnerable human beings.

“You have lost everything as a result of this, you have lost your family, you have lost your job, and you have lost your good character.”

Rejecting the possibility of suspending the sentence, she added: “The message must go out that if people contribute to the abuse of very young children in this way, they must go to prison - and your good character and your profession is not a factor which can make any difference to that.”

In a statement, the The Rt Revd Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, said: "The crimes committed by Christopher Goble are a betrayal of the standards expected of all clergy and church officers, and we offer an unreserved apology to all those affected – acknowledging that the effects of abuse are lifelong.

"In the Diocese of Peterborough, we take all safeguarding allegations very seriously, and we are committed to following House of Bishops safeguarding guidelines in all our churches to ensure that the Church is a safer place for all.

"We urge anyone wishing to give information or make disclosures of Church-related abuse to make direct contact with our Diocesan Safeguarding Team on 01733 887040 / 887041. If you feel it would be easier to email, then please contact [email protected] or [email protected]

"We recognise that this option may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the Church. A dedicated telephone helpline, operating independently from the Church, has therefore been set up – the number is 0800 80 20 20.

"Please join us in praying for everyone who has been affected by this wicked behaviour," he added.