News

Drunken priest assaulted a police officer and a paramedic

Drunken priest assaulted a police officer and a paramedic

Anglican priest Gareth Jones, above, has been suspended after he admitted assaulting a police officer and a paramedic on a drunken night out.

Jones, according to this BBC report, swore at officers and claimed he had diplomatic immunity from the Vatican when he was arrested two weeks ago.

A paramedic found him passed out in his clerical clothes, in central London.

Jones, who later said he was “deeply ashamed” about what happened, had drunk three bottles of wine, several pints of beer, gin and tonics and vodka.

Highbury Corner magistrates heard he kicked a paramedic twice in the leg before punching him and trying to bite him, on Charing Cross Road, in Covent Garden, London.

As police intervened, the priest from St Mary’s Church in Ilford, east London, kicked an officer in the face, the court was told.

When asked which embassy would grant him diplomatic immunity, the Anglican priest said “the Vatican” and swore at officers.

Jones, who has previous convictions for a bomb hoax, affray, possession of cannabis, fraud, and criminal damage, now faces formal church disciplinary proceedings.

His lawyer, Dominic Hockley, told the court that Jones had consumed about 53 units of alcohol before the incident and was seeking help to deal with alcoholism.

To say that this incident has been a wake-up call would be an understatement.

In an email to the BBC after the court hearing, Jones admitted that he was an alcoholic, which he said he was now “determined” to deal with.

I’m deeply ashamed of actions and the harm I have caused. When I was 20 I turned my life around and began a journey seeking to help people in difficulty through the ministry of the church.

It’s hard to admit you are weak and vulnerable when you are a priest, and I’ve hidden that away for too long.

District Judge Robin McPhee ordered Mr Jones, who admitted two assaults, to pay £700 in fines, £200 in compensation each to the policeman and the paramedic, as well as £85 prosecution costs and a £35 victim surcharge.

A spokesman for the diocese of Chelmsford said:

We are deeply shocked by Mr Jones’ behaviour. We suspended him from his duties as soon as we were notified of the incident. Now that the case has been concluded we have started proceedings under the terms of the Clergy Discipline Measure.

We are holding all those affected by this serious incident in our prayers.

A quick check of the St Mary’s website this morning reveals that Jones is still listed as “Parish Priest and Vicar”.

Fr Gareth has been the Parish Priest of St Mary’s since 2010. Previously he was the Assistant Priest of St Michael and All Angels, Brighton. Fr Gareth is married to Daina, a medical doctor, and they have one daughter. He trained for the priesthood at the College of the Resurrection, Mirfield.

Hat tip: PPS and Ivan Bailey

15 responses to “Drunken priest assaulted a police officer and a paramedic”

  1. Newspaniard says:

    “…proceedings under the terms of the Clergy Discipline Measure…” Are those the same terms that transfer pedophiles from location to location where there are (available) children?

  2. Terry says:

    The poor man is susceptible to alcohol and other intoxicants and I s in need of help. No different to many people who behave very badly under the influence … and many who behave loutishly. So cut this guy some slack. What about the thousands of priests who have done and are doing far worse thinks knowingly in a state of sobriety and in full awareness of the hurt and criminality of their perversions against children, women and humanity in general. No … this poor looser is to be shown some humanity … his priestly brothers are the ones who we should root out. In fact the biggest issue here is the rcc itself rotten from top to bottom, pun intended. That is the force of evil that needs to be cut down.

  3. Stuart H. says:

    This almost reads like a script from ‘Rev’ doesn’t it? Odd coincidence too that he trained at Mirfield, like Richard Coles, whose experience shaped that ‘Rev’ character, and whose autobiography is very funny on the time when, at his priest training interview, he was asked if he’d ever done drugs, rattled off a list that would have turned most job interviewer’s hair white and didn’t get so much as a raised eyebrow.

    More seriously though, I’m left idly wondering if the string of previous convictions are from before the time he “turned his life around” and started the priest training or since. Either way, doesn’t reflect well on the C of E. A 20 year old with a cannabis conviction you could understand, but some of the other stuff?

  4. Angela_K says:

    A criminal with a few previous convictions, just the sort man for the Catholic church.

  5. barriejohn says:

    I agree with Terry. He sounds like just the sort of person who SHOULD be a parish priest. But what a “loving and forgiving” response from his diocese – they’re not praying for HIM then, bloody hypocrites!

  6. I agree with Terry too. As a Humanist and a former Paramedic, I find it distasteful that this is being used as an argument against religion rather than an argument for tolerance and understanding for someone whose life may have been ruined by the illness of alcoholism. We may not agree with his religious views but he is still a human being in need of support, care and compassion. There are much better arguments against religion than this.

  7. Stephen Mynett says:

    I agree that he has an illness and needs help and understanding but he also chose to join an organisation that tells us all how we should live, even if we want nothing to do with them. On those grounds he is a hypocrite and should be shown up as such.
    Religions are full of people telling us what to do but not adhering to their own laws.

  8. Brian Jordan says:

    You’ve missed out one of the best bits. According to the Daily Mail, the prosecutor said ‘I’m not sure if he has anything to do with the Vatican because he is with the Church of England. There’s no relationship between those two religions.’
    As for comments, many on the Mail are far more cynical than any of the above.

  9. Trevor Blake says:

    Diplomatic immunity for clergy? It would be a laugh except it’s true…

    http://www.concordatwatch.eu/topic-47307.834

  10. barriejohn says:

    Trevor Blake: He was an Anglican, though!

    Does anyone else remember The Curious Incident of the Bishop in the Night, which I seem to remember being referred to here at the time:

    One of the most senior bishops in the Church of England faced his congregation yesterday sporting a black eye after admitting that he could not remember being “mugged” following a drinks reception at the Irish embassy.

    The Rt Rev Tom Butler, the Bishop of Southwark, said that he had been robbed after arriving home with a bump to his head and without his briefcase, crucifix and mobile phone.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1536544/Curious-incident-in-the-night-leaves-Bishop-of-Southwark-with-black-eye-and-sore-head.html

  11. John the Drunkard says:

    It sounds as if the Rev. had turned to religion in the attempt to deal with his alcoholism. As millions have discovered, this doesn’t work well at all. Especially in the long run.

    Getting sober is a Big Deal, and involves powerful rethinking and refeeling about Life, the Universe, and Everything. This can make the troubled drinker, and the newly sober VERY vulnerable to religious appeals.

  12. John says:

    He is probably a Millwall FC supporter too.
    Show some compassion!

  13. […] read this written by a good friend and sometime editor of mine (see http://freethinker.co.uk/2016/06/04/drunken-priest-assaulted-a-police-officer-and-a-paramedic/), laughed, made a comment and went about my daily business elsewhere. Later, out of curiosity, I […]

  14. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    At least he only assaulted adults.

  15. gedediah says:

    @ John the drunkard – if he went to the AA for help they insist on you giving up your will to a higher power. Maybe that’s how he got hooked!