A FORMER priest has been convicted of sexual offences against a woman and a girl.

Meirion Griffiths was convicted of the offences, which happened in West Sussex in the 1970’s and 1980’s, at a trial today.

The Church of England clergyman abused the victim’s trust for “his own sexual gratification”, said detectives.

Griffiths, 81, formerly of Coachwood Way, Maddington, Perth, Western Australia, was convicted of two counts of indecent assault against a girl in her late teens during the mid-1970’s.

And two counts of indecent assault against a woman then in her mid-twenties in 1982.

He was the vicar at St Pancras Church, Chichester, at the times of the offences.

Griffiths was also found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault, one against each of the women.

Detective Constable Jo French of Sussex Police said: “This abuse has clearly had a profound impact on both victims ever since.

“ Griffiths, by virtue of his position as local vicar, came to know them quite separately, and gained their confidence in order to systematically abuse their trust in him for his own sexual gratification.

“Both victims came forward quite independently five years ago, having finally found the resolve to come forward to seek justice.

“They have supported our investigation and gave evidence at both trials.

“We admire their resilience and courage in coming forward and doing so.”

The prosecution followed an investigation by Sussex Police detectives after the allegations were received in 2014.

The two victims moved away from the area and Griffiths emigrated to Western Australia in 1988.

He was arrested there on an extradition warrant in November 2017 as a result of the investigation.

And was finally extradited to the UK in January 2019 to face trial.

The force said it had full co-operation from the Chichester Diocese of the Church of England throughout the investigation.

Police emphasise there are no current safeguarding issues or risks for anyone connected to St Pancras Church in relation to this case.

Griffiths was remanded in custody for sentencing on a date not yet set by the court.

At Winchester Crown Court on August 7, 2019, a jury had failed to agree on verdicts over the same six counts against Griffiths after an eight-day trial, and was discharged.