A PREDATORY music teacher who abused young boys while working as a church choirmaster has been put behind bars.

Andrew Wilson, 57, targeted choir boys, plying them with “notions of how special they were” before luring them into a sexual relationship.

The freelance choirmaster, music teacher and organist had worked at churches in Warnham, West Sussex, and Beddington, in Surrey.

Sussex Police launched an investigation three years ago when one of his victims reached out.

Investigating officer DC Gemma Nickols said: “Wilson has been a committed and highly capable musician over many years, well known in the world of all-male choirs and choral music.

“His criminal behaviour involved grooming certain boys in his choirs, singling them out for special treatment, flattering them with his notions of how special they were and then luring them into a sexual relationship with him.”

Wilson, of Norwood Way, Walton, was convicted on ten counts of indecent assault, four counts of gross indecency, one count of sexual assault and one count of meeting a child for sexual activity.

The guilty verdicts came after a 17-day trial at Lewes Crown Court, with Wilson’s crimes spanning from the mid-1980s until 2011.

The paedophile was convicted of abusing one child between 2008 and 2011, while on choir tours in South London and Germany.

He was also convicted on three counts of making 1,366 indecent images of children.

The pictures, believed to have been taken from the internet, were found when officers searched his address following his arrest.

Wilson was sentenced to a total of 12 years imprisonment and will remain on the sex offenders register for life.

His victims were forced to recount their experiences in court.

DC Nickols added: “Our investigation started three years ago when one of his Warnham victims contacted us via the recently established Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and we subsequently traced the other two victims.

“We arrested and first interviewed Wilson in September that year, but he denied any wrongdoing and has done so throughout the trial.

“This meant that all three victims had to give their evidence and were subject to cross-examination.

“We very much admire their courage and fortitude in coming forward, and in supporting the prosecution throughout.”

Sussex Police insist officers have had the full co-operation of the Dioceses of Chichester and Southwark throughout the investigation.

An NSPCC spokesman said: “Wilson’s actions were wicked and predatory, robbing his victims of their childhoods.

“Admitting his guilt would have spared them the trauma of reliving their abuse but instead they were forced to recount their experiences in court." paying a heavy emotional toll.

“Cases such as this show that victims can achieve justice no matter how long ago the crime occurred.”