A DISGRACED former church warden and parish councillor who was jailed for a string of sex offences against young boys yesterday failed in a Court of Appeal bid for freedom.

Michael Allfrey, now 71, of Hereford Road, Storridge, near Malvern, was jailed for four-and-a-half years last February after he was convicted of the sickening abuse of six youngsters.

This week, lawyers for the former Storridge Parish councillor argued that he has served enough punishment and that he should now be allowed to go home.

But three senior judges rejected the argument that the sentence, handed down at Worcester Crown Court, was too long.

"Four-and-a-half years was a heavy penalty for a 70-year-old with a substantial previous reputation, who had given much to society, but it was not manifestly excessive," said Mr Justice Burton.

The Court of Appeal heard that Allfrey had appeared to be a "pillar of the community", but lived a secret double life and was described by the sentencing judge as a "menacing predator".

Six boys told of abuse, which included him touching their private parts underneath or over their clothing and trying to get them to get involved in sexual activity.

The abuse came to light when one boy complained to a teacher and Allfrey was arrested.

He denied all of the allegations - 11 sexual assaults and four counts of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity - but was found guilty.

His barrister, Michael Birnbaum QC, told the appeal judges that Allfrey was taking his punishment and had decided to sit it out in his cell.

Serving his time in an open prison, he has been allowed to work in the garden, but has had disagreements with his tutor when he thinks he knows more than him, he said.

The QC also questioned the crown court judge's statement that Allfrey was a "menacing predator", arguing that the offending was sporadic.

And he said insufficient account had been taking of a series of vigilante attacks on Allfrey's property, which have caused him financial loss and his family substantial distress.

"This is simply too long and the court can do its duty to this case and the public by quite a substantial reduction for a man who was in his early 70s and who had given a great deal of public service and still has a lot to offer the public when he is released," said the barrister.

"There is no public interest to be served in his continued imprisonment," he added.

But, giving judgment, Mr Justice Burton, who heard the appeal with Lady Justice Macur and Judge Richard Griffith-Jones, said there was nothing wrong with the sentence.