Vicar guilty of assaulting choirboy at St Matthias Church, Stoke Newington, in late 1970s and early 1980s

PUBLISHED: 08:57 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:37 14 February 2017

A file image of St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington. Picture: John Salmon/Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A file image of St Matthias Church in Wordsworth Road, Stoke Newington. Picture: John Salmon/Geograph (CC BY-SA 2.0)


A dying man gave evidence to convict a Stoke Newington vicar who had assaulted him as a choirboy in the 1970s and 1980s.

But the victim, who suffered from a degenerative illness and could only communicate by blinking, died too early to hear the news that Cyril Ashton Rowe had been found guilty.

Rowe, now 78, carried out the attacks over two years at St Matthias Church, when the boy was aged between nine and 11.

He was convicted on Wednesday after a trial at Bournemouth Crown Court. The victim, who suffered from motor neurone disease, had been able to give evidence using special technology that let him “speak” using eye movements – similar to scientist Stephen Hawking.

Tragically, he died on the day of the conviction, and never heard the news. He had been living in a south London hospice.

Rowe, of Manor Road, Bournemouth, will be sentenced on March 10 for three counts of indecent assault.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said today: “The offences were reported to police on August 13, 2015.

“At the time of the offences, Rowe was a vicar at St Matthias Church in Stoke Newington. The victim attended the church as a chorister.

“Rowe was interviewed under caution in January 2016 and charged.”

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