A CATHEDRAL verger convicted of indecently assaulting a choirboy walked free from court yesterday.
Colin James Adams, who currently works at St Nicholas’ Cathedral in Newcastle, was found guilty of three counts of indecently assaulting the boy in Llandaff, Cardiff, 20 years ago. The 58-year-old already had a previous conviction for gross indecency in a public toilet with another man.
Divorced father-of-three Adams stood trial at Cardiff Crown Court and his victim had claimed the verger became his stalker – appearing as he walked home from school and walking with him back to his home where his church-going parents would invite him to tea.
He was also alleged to have sent the boy cards and letters up to three times a week.
Adams was living in a tied church cottage on the Cathedral Green at Llandaff in Cardiff at the time the offences were said to have been committed in the 1990s.
Yesterday, Adams was jailed for 12 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours’ unpaid work after a jury found him guilty of three allegations of indecent assault but cleared him of four similar offences and of the more serious charge of serious sexual assault.
The jury of six men and six women had been unaware Adams had already stood trial for the allegations – a trial which took place at the same court last year – or of his previous conviction of gross indecency which he received following an incident with another man in public toilets.
The court heard Adams, who gave up his Cardiff job following his 1996 conviction, was now likely to lose his home and his job as a verger on Tyneside.
Prior to sentencing, Adams’ barrister Peter Davies told the court his client had already suffered a great deal given that his name had been “dragged through mud”.
He added: “He is a man who devoted his life to a particular form of work. He didn’t go into it with a view of profiting in life. He did it in order to serve and that was brought to an abrupt end.”
Judge Patrick Curran QC said he had taken into account the fact Adams had been acquitted by the jury of five of the charges and that one which he was found guilty of involved “no more than hugging or cuddling”.
Yet he said: “The offences were a very serious breach of trust. You were not in a position of a priest or school master and still less of a parent or full-time carer but you deliberately abused a trust which was placed in you by the complainant’s parents, by the rector of the church and the Church in Wales itself.
“You are in many ways a broken man facing a very beak future.”
Judge Curran sentenced Adams to 12 months in prison for two of the charges and six months for the third, all of which were suspended for two years. All three sentences are to run concurrently.
Adams will also be on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. After the verdict, a spokeswoman for the Church in Wales said: “The Diocese of Llandaff deeply regrets that someone employed by the cathedral as a verger abused his position of trust and caused such physical and mental harm to a young person. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved.”