International

Former BBC presenter pleads guilty to child sex offences

A former church minister and BBC Wales presenter has pleaded guilty to sexual offences against children and adults.

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

The offences happened in north Wales, Shropshire, London, and Romania.

Thomas, who worked for BBC Wales as a reporter and a presenter on Ffeil, the Welsh language news programme for young people, and on Wales Today, will be sentenced on 18 August.

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.

Ben Thomas
Thomas’ actions were an “awful breach of trust”, police say

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

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

“Foremost in our prayers now are the victims and their families.”

North Wales Police thanked Thomas’ victims and families for their “strength and courage,” adding they would now be “spared the harrowing ordeal of a lengthy trial”.

Det Con Lynne Willsher said: “Ben Thomas’ 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.”

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

The NSPCC said Thomas’ crimes were “horrendous” and said it was important his victims had access to “ongoing support”.

“Thomas has admitted to committing a wave of sexual offences over a long period of time and it is right that he now faces the consequences of his actions,” a spokeswoman said.

“It is crucial that anyone who has been abused feels safe to report what has happened to them, no matter how long ago the offence took place, in the knowledge that they will be listened to.”