Vicar will not face charges over death of grandson

Rev Jim Percival the new vicar at Freckleton Parish Church of the Holy Trinity
Rev Jim Percival the new vicar at Freckleton Parish Church of the Holy Trinity

A Vicar has been told he will not face charges after 18 months in which he was accused of murdering his own newborn grandson.

Rev Jim Percival has also been cleared of allegations of rape, child neglect and concealing the birth of a child.

The 65 year old was told by Lancashire Police that he is not to be charged on any matters and was released from the terms of his police bail.

His daughter Ruth, 29, was also told she will not face any charges following the birth of her son Johnathan at the vicarage where the family lived in the village of Freckleton,Lancashire.

Rev Percival was vicar of the village’s Holy Trinity Church for ten years having previously worked at churches in Preston and Blackburn.He was previously a carpenter in Putney,London until he joined the priesthood in 2003.

He was accompanied to Blackpool Police Station by his friend and clerical colleague Rev Terry Sholtz.

Mr Percival smiled briefly after he left the building and started a return journey to the North West town where he has started a new life.

He was first arrested in November 2014 after the police were alerted to a birth at the vicarage.

During the week which followed the birth he disappeared for a few days bizarrely leaving details for his own funeral.

The village ran amok with rumours but he returned for the Christmas lights switch on and police quickly swooped and did a finger tip search of the vicarage on Sunnyside,Freckleton.

Villagers had not known his daughter was even pregnant and initially her father said she had been taken seriously ill.

The vicar’s wife Susan, 66, was also arrested but she was told no action was to be taken against her month before the police decision on her husband and daughter.

A close friend of the vicar who has since resigned from his post in the village said: “He feels he has been vilified over this.He has waited 17 months to be told he is a free man.In those months he has lost his eldest daughter to cancer and there have been other family troubles.”

“Today is not for celebration but one must question the time it has taken for the police to make a final decision and relieve a man of God of this massive burden.”

“Some of the mud will always stick and that is why he has moved even though his Bishop has been very supportive of him.”