A paedophile church minister who used his social skills as a priest to groom young boys he subjected to sickening sex attacks was jailed for life today.
Simon Thomas was told by judge Jeremy Burford QC, at Southampton Crown Court, that he would serve a minimum of eight years in prison before being eligible for parole.
The 44-year-old married man with four children, was also given a sex offenders prevention order banning him from communicating with children and he was also banned from working with children and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.
Thomas, who served as a minister with the United Reformed Church in Hythe, Hants, pleaded guilty last month to 35 charges including two offences of rape against an 11-year-old boy.
Other offences included taking indecent photos of children and indecency with sexual activity with a child, involving nine boys aged between 11 and 15.
It emerged earlier this week that Thomas committed the majority of the offences after the police and the URC received a warning of him having sexual liaisons with minors he met on day internet chat rooms. He was questioned in 2003 but police halted the investigation without checking his computers because the tip-off was anonymous.