Jailed vicar sacked

A CLEVEDON vicar who was jailed for sexually abusing boys has been told he can never work as a priest again. Father David Smith, who worked as parish priest

A CLEVEDON vicar who was jailed for sexually abusing boys has been told he can never work as a priest again.Father David Smith, who worked as parish priest at St John the Evangelist Church in the town, was jailed for five-and-a-half years in May after being found guilty of sexually abusing boys over a 30-year period.He assaulted some of his victims during sleepovers at his Clevedon vicarage and on holidays abroad.The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Reverend Peter Price, this week imposed the maximum possible penalty under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, which bans Smith from ever working as a priest again.Smith, aged 52, has now been removed from his office as incumbent of St John's Church and has been prohibited for life from exercising any functions of his orders.Smith's £20,000 a year salary, which had to be paid even though he had been jailed as he was still legally the vicar at St John's, has also been stopped.The Diocese of Bath and Wells said the penalty was imposed as soon as possible after Smith's conviction.Diocese bosses said it was not possible to take action immediately after Smith was jailed as the Bishop was obliged to comply with various time limits in the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, including the allowance of further time for Smith to appeal against the Bishop's penalty.The time limit has now expired and the penalty been imposed.Bishop Peter said: "The legal processes we had to go through takes a frustratingly long time but they have now been completed."We can now look to the future with hope and confidence."The church has been very well serviced by the Rev Victor Barley with the assistance of a retired priest, Rev Nigel Hackett and I pay tribute to the work they have done over the past months."They will continue while a search for a new vicar goes on."Their ministry there has been one of healing and reconciliation."The process of identifying the right person to be the new vicar at St John's has now begun and a permanent appointment will be made as soon as possible.

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