A former priest who used the respectability of the cassock to groom and abuse two boys has been jailed.

Keith Wilkie Denford, 78, abused the pair over an 18-month period from when they were aged around 13.

Jailing him at Hove Crown Court, Judge Paul Tain, said that there could be “No greater breach of trust than a man playing the role of a man of God".

The jury at the two week trial heard that Denford, of Broad Reach Mews, Shoreham, was the vicar at St John the Evangelist Church in Burgess Hill in the 1980s.

He used his position in the Church of England to groom and abuse the two boys over an 18-month period.

On one occasion he got into a bath with one of the boys while aroused. On another he pressed himself up against a boy intimately with the words: "How nice it is to have a cuddle."

Denford was jailed for 18 months.

Mytton, the church's choirmaster was also convicted of three counts of indecent assault relating to a third boy when the victim was in his early teens between 1992 and 1994.

Judge Tain sentenced Mytton to nine months suspended for two years.

He was also made the subject of a sex offender programme and a two-year supervision order.

Following the sentencing, detective constable Lee Scott, praised the victims for their courage.

He said: "During the investigation we had full co-operation from the Diocese of Chichester.

"We admire the courage of the victims in coming forward and being ready to stand up in court."

The Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, welcomed the sentencing for the “most abhorrent crimes imaginable”.

He said: “Many people's lives have been affected by the betrayal of trust manifested in this case as details unfolded during the course of the trail. I want to offer my deep regret as the Diocesan Bishop.

“Child sexual abuse is one of the most abhorrent crimes imaginable and an absolute betrayal of the caring and safe environment which the Diocese is committed to providing.”