Five members of a Sydenham paedophile ring who systematically abused boys from a church in the 1970s and 1980s have finally been jailed.

Four young members of St Bartholomew's Church, aged between eight and 16, met their abusers after being introduced by choirmaster Tony Brockhurst.

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The group then preyed upon the boys, grooming them with small gifts and takeaway food to gain their trust before subjecting them to sickening abuse.

Many of the attacks took place in the victim's own homes, with one boy plied with alcohol before he was sexually assaulted.

One of the victims finally found the courage to report the abuse to police in 2011 - four years after Brockhurst died.

An investigation was launched by the Met's Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT) at Sidcup, leading to three more victims being identified. And police believe there may be others who have not yet come forward.

Detective Constable Sam Renwick-Forster, of Sidcup CAIT, said: "These men were trusted by both the victims and their parents. This was in part due to their close links to the church and to the church choir. The defendants bribed the youngsters by showering them with gifts and food before they violated them in the worst way imaginable.

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"The victims in this case must be commended for their bravery in standing up against these individuals and ensuring they are not able to target other young people. The effect of abuse such as this cannot be underestimated and I hope today's result will at least give them some sense of justice.

"It is possible there are other victims out there who are yet to come forward. I would encourage anyone who wants to report offences of this nature to contact their local police."

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Chief crown prosecutor for London Baljit Ubhey said: "The defendants took advantage of the trust placed in them by their victims and their parents as they presented themselves as honest and trustworthy members of the community. A number of them were active members of the local church and became friends with the parents of their victims, which gave them access to the children. 
"These men preyed on vulnerable boys and plied them with alcohol, gifts and affection - the defendants encouraging each other to abuse the boys. In order to protect themselves they would carry out the abuse in isolation, so that each victim believed it was only happening to them.
"The actions of these men were appalling but I hope these convictions provide some comfort to the victims."

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The abusers

Five men were convicted at Croydon Crown Court last week and sentenced on August 29.

Philip Tuffill, 55, from Surrey, was convicted of nine sexual offences committed between 1977 and 1986 against three boys. He was jailed for a total of 14 years.

Timothy Fuller, 53, from Stoke-on-Trent was sentenced to six years after being convicted of two assaults committed between 1981 and 1984 against one boy.

Robert Lawty, 55, from Kent, was convicted of two assaults committed between 1983 and 1984. He was jailed for five years.

Ian Coulthart, 62, from Brighton, was convicted of one sex assault and cleared of a second. He was sentenced to three-and-a-half years.

Mark Jales, 51, from Somerset, got a one year sentence for indecent assault.

Tuffill, Fuller, Lawty and Coulthart were put on the sex offenders register for life. Jales was put on the register for 10 years.