A CLERGYMAN from Upper Norwood was a paedophile who ran a pro-circumcision group, a court heard. Vernon Quaintance, who was 71 on Wednesday, admitted a string of offences against five boys as young as 11 that he had met in the 1960s and 1970s. Quaintance, who was a member of Catholic society the Order of Malta, accumulated an archive of vile images as recently as 2011, Southwark Crown Court heard. He has served as a sacristan in the church in the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth, north London, where the Order conduct their masses. Quaintance was a leader of the Gilgal Society, a group claiming to promote male circumcision and "its benefits in terms of health, sexual satisfaction and self-image". He dodged jail in 2012 after he was found guilty of possessing nine hours of child pornography on video tapes. The retired telephone engineer walked free, despite a judge pouring scorn on the claim he derived "no sexual enjoyment" from the clip. But Quaintance could now die behind bars, after admitting nine offences just moments before his jury trial was due to begin. Quaintance, of Hetley Gardens, Upper Norwood pleaded guilty to five charges counts of indecency with a child between 1966 and 1976 and four counts of possession of indecent images. An additional count of sexual assault on a child was left to lie on file. Judge Anthony Leonard QC adjourned sentencing until September 5 after Quaintance's barrister told the court she was due to give birth imminently. The judge said there was a "very real likelihood" of a significant custodial sentence. Quaintance was released on conditional bail, with the requirement to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18. He had previously claimed to be celibate throughout his entire life and has undergone an operation to remove his prostate.
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