Jail for Hampstead and Camden paedophile church minister
- Credit: Met Police
A former United Reformed Church (URC) minister has been jailed for four years for downloading thousands of child abuse images and attempting to groom at least one young teenager.
Hugh Graham, 60, was minister at St Andrew's Frognal in Finchley Road, Trinity Camden Town and Lumen in Regent's Park at the time of his arrest in November 2019.
He admitted a range of offences including attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and possessing an "extreme" pornographic image - along with possession of prohibited images of children. He was sentenced on February 11 at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
The Crown Prosecution Service said Graham had communicated with "at least two children" using the app Grindr, and had described himself as "an open-minded perv" in messages.
The paedophile advised looking on the "dark web" to find images and videos, while also wrote to one victim: "“I’m hoping you aren’t a gang of blokes trying to trap me. I could get into trouble for chatting to you lol.”
When Graham was arrested and his computers seized, police found more than 35,000 abuse images dating back to at least 2012. Some included children as young as three, and children who were handcuffed.
Prosecutor Paul Addison said: “Hugh Graham was a trusted and respected member of the community who thought he could hide his criminality behind a screen.
“He preyed on children for his own sexual gratification and used Grindr and the dark web to feed his addiction. Graham knew what he was doing was wrong and he will now have to accept the consequences of his actions."
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Graham had been a URC minister since 1994. The Rev'd Andrew Prasad, Moderator of the the URC's Thames North Synod, said the church was "shocked" by the offences and said Graham had been suspended from all duties since his arrest.
Rev'd Prasad added: "The URC has robust safeguarding procedures in place, and throughout this case has worked closely with the authorities. Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected by this case."
Graham was also given a sexual harm prevention order and placed on the sex offenders register.