Ben Thomas: Ex-BBC presenter jailed for child sex offences

Image copyright
North Wales Police

Image caption

Thomas’s actions were an “awful breach of trust”, police said

A former BBC presenter and church minister has been sentenced to 10 years and four months in prison for sexually abusing children and adults.

Ben Thomas, 44, from Flintshire, admitted 40 offences, including indecent assaults and voyeurism.

The offences happened over a 29-year period in north Wales, Shropshire, London, and Romania, Mold Crown Court was told.

Thomas’s crimes took place between 1990 and last year.

In July, he admitted 10 counts of sexual activity with a child, eight sexual assaults and four attempts to commit sexual assault.

He also pleaded guilty to nine indecent assaults, seven counts of voyeurism and two counts of making indecent videos of children.

Image caption

Thomas worked on Wales Today and Ffeil, the Welsh language news programme for young people

Judge Timothy Petts told Thomas: “For nearly 30 years until your arrest in 2019, you hid a dark secret – namely that you were a prolific sex abuser, the vast majority of your victims being teenage boys.

“Your crimes started when you yourself were a teenager. They continued through to the time that you were a respected church leader and, to make matters worse, you abused that position to find and select potential victims – some of them in your own home.”

The judge said Thomas’s “preferred method of abuse” was to wait until his victims were asleep and, in one case, Thomas abused an 11-year-old while two of his own children were asleep in the same room.

‘Disgusted by the duality of Ben’s existence’

Many victims did not know they had been abused.

One target told Thomas in a victim statement: “I forgive you. There is no-one too bad for Jesus.”

Another said he was “disgusted by the duality of Ben’s existence” as an “earnest” preacher while repeatedly committing “horrendous” acts.

Prosecutor Simon Rogers said one man thought “dark spirits” were abusing him.

Thomas worked for BBC Wales as a presenter on Ffeil, the Welsh language news programme for young people, and as a reporter on Wales Today.

He left the BBC in 2005 to preach on the streets of London, before returning to Wales in 2008 as pastor of the Criccieth Family Church in Gwynedd.

Thomas left his post last year.

BBC Wales said it had no comment to make following the sentencing.

Image caption

Thomas became a church pastor in 2005

Criccieth Family Church previously said Thomas’s arrest had come as a “complete shock”, and that safeguarding checks had been “satisfactorily completed”.

“We are devastated by the revelation of such sin and grieve over the pain caused to the innocent victims, the betrayal and deception,” the church said in a statement.

North Wales Police thanked his victims and families for their “strength and courage”.

Det Con Lynne Willsher said: “Ben Thomas’s offending involved the serious sexual abuse of vulnerable young children by a religious leader.

“It is an awful breach of the trust placed in him by the victims and their families, and I cannot begin to imagine what impact the revelation of his offending has had on them.”