A 63-year-old vicar, David Renshaw, has been sentenced to four years’ imprisonment after being found guilty of eight offences related to possessing and making indecent images of children. The trial concluded at Hove Crown Court on Tuesday, February 7.
Renshaw was convicted of three counts of possessing indecent images of children, three counts of making indecent images of children, possessing prohibited images of children, and possessing extreme pornographic images involving animals, specifically dogs and horses.
The authorities became aware of Renshaw’s activities in June 2019 when an illegal image was discovered on a file-sharing website in New Zealand. The account was linked to Renshaw through his email address and IP address, prompting the National Crime Agency to notify Sussex Police.
In August 2020, police executed a search warrant at Renshaw’s residence on Wallace Avenue, Worthing, and seized several devices. During the search, they discovered a shocking total of 22,504 illegal images. Additionally, the RSPCA found a number of malnourished dogs, cats, and chickens on the premises.
Renshaw, who served as the vicar of Holy Trinity and Christ Church in Worthing, was subsequently arrested and charged with the offences. He denied all the charges but was found guilty on all counts by a jury during the trial at Hove Crown Court.
During the sentencing, the judge commended the Sussex Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) for their diligent work. The judge recognized the impact that reviewing the evidence would have had on the investigating officers. Furthermore, the judge emphasised that Renshaw posed a high risk to children and had severely betrayed the trust of both parishioners and the wider church community.
In addition to the prison sentence, Renshaw was ordered to pay £4,200 in fines and was subjected to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order. Furthermore, all offending material was ordered to be destroyed.
Detective Sergeant David Rose, the investigating officer, highlighted Renshaw’s refusal to accept responsibility for his actions and mentioned the disturbing conditions discovered during the search of his residence. DS Rose expressed gratitude to partner agencies for their support and the Diocese of Chichester for their full cooperation throughout the investigation. He also reassured the public that necessary safeguarding measures had been taken and no identifiable children were at risk in the case.
The conviction and sentencing of David Renshaw serve as a reminder of the importance of thorough investigations and the commitment to safeguarding vulnerable individuals, particularly children, within the community.