Statement from the Bishop of Birkenhead

A former choirmaster who 50 years ago sexually abused 14 boys at churches in the North West has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. 

Richard Owen, also known as Franklyn Stanowski, met the children after they joined the choir at churches in Winsford, Knutsford and Altrincham.

The offences occurred between 1968 and 1998 when the boys were aged under 16.

The 70-year-old, from Winsford, admitted to 27 offences involving indecent assault of underage boys and was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Friday 30 September.

Cheshire Constabulary’s investigation into Owen’s crimes began following the Past Cases Review 2 (PCR2), a review of files held in the diocese. 

Following the sentencing, BIshop Julie Conalty, Bishop of Birkenhead and Lead Bishop for Safeguarding in the Diocese of Chester issued the following statement: 

"I want to thank those who raised concerns about Richard Owen, especially the victims for assisting the police with their investigation. Their courage, strength of character and determination to see justice done has resulted in the conviction of a serial sex offender.

"Despite the passage of time, I am aware that for many the abuse they have suffered will have a life-long impact and I continue to pray for all those affected by this case.

"It is appalling that Richard Owen used his position as a trusted choirmaster to facilitate his abuse of young boys over many years and I feel a deep sense of shame that this happened in our Diocese and that some of the abuse was perpetrated in our church buildings.  

"It is much harder for abusers to hide in plain sight in our churches and projects nowadays, but Safeguarding is a never-ending task, and we remain committed to vigilance and to ensuring that the correct safeguarding practices and processes are followed.

"I hope that the awareness that this case brings might be an encouragement to others to come forward to report safeguarding concerns or abuse. You will be listened to, taken seriously and cared for."

Any individual who wishes to come forward with information or to make a disclosure is encouraged to make direct contact with the Acting Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser, Sean Augustin on 07704 338885. However, recognising that this may not feel safe for those with a lived experience of abuse from within the Church, Splitz Support Services is an independent charity that specialises in supporting victims and survivors of abuse. They can provide confidential, independent and specialist support. You can email them on

Page last updated: Wednesday 5th October 2022 8:30 AM
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