Phillip Temple was sentenced today for sexual abuse of children in Lambeth and Wandsworth Children’s Homes, as well as abuse of children whilst he was a priest.
Temple perpetrated the abuse whilst he worked as a trainee, House Father and Children’s Home manager at a number children’s homes including Woking Close in London Borough of Wandsworth, and Shirley Oaks and Hartfield House children’s homes in London Borough of Lambeth. He later became a member of the Benedictine Order and was ordained as a priest in 1987, based at Christ the King Monastery, where he continued to abuse children.
The abuse by Temple took place between 1970s and continued until around 1997. The sentencing today involved crimes against 12 victims, including a number who have died and therefore will never know that Temple faced justice and has been imprisoned for what he did to them.
Previous investigations had been carried out in relation to Temple, and a criminal trial was brought in the late 1990s, at which Temple lied under oath and denied that he had abused one of the children. Temple was today also sentenced for his perjury in relation to that trial.
During the police investigation, it was found that Temple falsified children’s social services records in an attempt to cover up his actions and to protect himself in case the records revealed what he had been doing.
It was submitted by the Crown Prosecution lawyers that these offences related to a gross breach of trust, particularly as Temple was paid to look after his victims, and that these children were in his care. It was noted that the abuse had an incalculable effect of his victims. Victim impact statements were read out in court today and one survivor read out his powerful statement of the continuing effects the abuse he suffered at the hands of Temple have had upon his life, and his hope for finally obtaining some justice in sentencing today.
Mr Sergent, the barrister for the defence, stated in mitigation for Temple that he had accepted that his “fate is in the court’s hands”, and that there is little he can say to make good as “all the apologies in the world would not reverse the trauma and distress”. He said that Temple asked that his disclosure of the names of his victims during his interviews earlier this year be seen to “demonstrate someone offering genuine remorse and responsibility” at this stage, albeit the many lies before.
In sentencing, the judge commented that the abuse had been a “gross and grotesque breach of trust”, that Temple’s victims had been particularly vulnerable and that it was an aggravating factor. He said that added to this, was Temple’s prolific and consistent offending in terms of both time and the number of victims.
The Judge said that in this case there were failures by authorities in detecting and preventing the abuse in the past and that whilst that may have also extended to the police at the time, he commended the officers involved in this investigation for their efforts. He continued that he was aware of the survivors in court today, and acknowledged that whilst no sentence could ever be sufficient to ease the pain of the harm they had suffered, he hoped that justice being done today would go some way to assist.