Villagers rally round vicar after baby death probe

Picture shows Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton, Lancs., where Rev Jim Percival was a vicar.Thomas Temple/Rossparry.co.uk
Picture shows Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton, Lancs., where Rev Jim Percival was a vicar.Thomas Temple/Rossparry.co.uk
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Shocked villagers have rallied round a vicar and his wife and daughter after they were quizzed by detectives over the death of a newborn baby boy.

The clergyman standing in for the suspended Rev Jim Percival called for prayers at Holy Trinity Church in Freckleton yesterday and revealed: “The whole village doesn’t believe they’re guilty.”

Rev Jim Percival

Rev Jim Percival

Rev Percival, 64, his wife Susan, 65, and their 28-year-old daughter Ruth were questioned last week before being released on bail until March 5.

Police told the media the vicar and his daughter had been arrested on suspicion of murder and conspiracy to conceal the birth of a child. Mrs Percival was also interviewed about conspiracy.

Rev Terry Sholtz, who is also based at Holy Trinity, helped Archdeacon Michael Everitt conduct Sunday communion, before saying: “We are all trying to make sense of it all. But there is an overwhelming belief that it will be resolved and the family will be able to resume their lives.

“We are all supporting them with prayers and messages. The response has been tumultuous. There have been lots of cards and notes put through the doors of the vicarage. One villager even left a box of homemade flapjacks for them with a note of support.There is a very caring community in Freckleton and the support from us will go on as long as they need it. We will be there for them.”

Services went on as normal at Holy Trinity yesterday, although the Percivals were not present.

“The family are in a safe place being cared for pastorally and spiritually,” said Archdeacon Everitt. “But the church’s procedures are that anyone who is arrested on suspicion of a serious crime is automatically suspended until the police have completed their investigations

“It has been the most difficult thing any family would ever have to face.”