A British pedophile priest who was found guilty of raping children for 20 years doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire to ‘burn away the sins.’
60-year-old Martyn Neale’s body was found incinerated in the garden of his vicarage, following an investigation by Metropolitan Police that blew the lid on his ‘unprecedented’ historical sex crimes.
Martyn’s body was discovered by his sister Janis Chandler just moments after he set himself ablaze and ran around the village of Hawley, Hampshire, screaming.
Local residents are now demanding how the priest had been allowed to get away with his crimes undetected for so many years.
The Mirror reports: North East Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley said the allegations against Mr Neale had “clearly weighed on him”, regardless of whether they were true or not.
A post-mortem found his body was covered in “near-total third degree burns and blackening by soot”, and he could only be identified by dental records.
The inquest heard Ms Chandler had arranged the previous evening for Mr Neale to pick her up so they could spend the day with their parents.
After attempting to contact him throughout the day, she went to find her brother at Hawley Vicarage in Blackwater, Hampshire, where he lived, at around 4pm.
She said: “I have a key, so I let myself in after getting no answer on the doorbell.
“I went in. He wasn’t there so I had a look around. His cars were parked outside. I noticed that the back door was unlocked as the chain was dangling.
“I went into the garden and, as I turned right, I saw the petrol can.
“I walked further and I just saw something on the ground that was burned. I was not sure at first, but I realised it was a body when I got nearer.
“I could see it was a body because there was a face and it was face down.”
Ms Chandler then phoned the police, who attended and were able to take control of the situation.
She said her brother would “help anyone” and said they were “a very close family”, seeing each other almost every day.
Detective Constable Matt Deery, of Basingstoke CID, told the inquest at Basingstoke Coroner’s Court, Hants, today that Mr Neale, who had been the vicar in Hawley for 20 years, was arrested and interviewed on July 17 in connection with historic sexual offences.
DC Deery said Mr Neale, who was not married and lived alone, was released without charge on unconditional bail following the interview, but said there was “an ongoing investigation” still underway.
Ms Chandler said her brother “had not spoken” about the allegations against him, but said she knew he had been suspended by the Church.
Coroner Mr Bradley said Mr Neale “effectively incinerated himself” in his garden against the backdrop of alleged sexual offences.
He added: “I do not and cannot look at these other than as allegations made. The relevance of them is that they have been made.”
Mr Bradley, recording a conclusion of suicide, added Mr Neale died as a result of “extensive third degree burns”.
He said: “Whether the allegations are true or false is not a matter for me, but they have been made and they clearly weighed on him.
“It is a straightforward matter, but of a tortured soul.
“He was under investigation for historic sexual offences. I merely note this as a relevant factor.
“The verdict I enter is that he killed himself.
“Please accept my sympathy. It is a matter of such sadness. As much as one may sensationalise it, this is a personal loss.”