Lay preacher sentenced for historic sex offences against girls in Southwick, Worthing and Hove

Peter Ernest Bourne has been sentenced. Photo: Sussex Police
Peter Ernest Bourne has been sentenced. Photo: Sussex Police

A lay preacher has been given an 11-and-a half year prison sentence for non-recent sexual offences against three girls in Southwick, Worthing and Hove.

Peter Ernest Bourne, 79, retired, of Moorefield Way, Great Stukeley, near Huntington, Cambridgeshire, was sentenced at Brighton Crown Court on Thursday, September, 27, confirmed police.

He was convicted on the same day after an eight-day trial on 14 counts, including one rape, five offences of indecency with a child, and eight offences of indecent assault, separately involving the three girls, in Southwick, Hove and Worthing during the 1960s and 1970s, a police spokesman said. The girls were not known to him through church work.

He was found not guilty of the rape of one of the girls and of sexually assaulting another of the girls, confirmed police.

Detective Constable Andrew Roe praised the victims, who had not disclosed the information to police for up to 50 years, for their courage in coming forward. He said: “Bourne had taken advantage of their vulnerability and exploited them each separately, for his own sexual gratification over several years...it has taken great bravery and strength for these individuals to come forward.”

For information about sources of advice and support to prevent and deal with child sex offending see the Sussex Police website.