Ex-football coach Bob Higgins found guilty of abusing 23 teenage boys while at Southampton FC and Peterborough.


          ***UPDATED***

The ex-football coach Bob Higgins that we reported on his guilty verdict back in May has today been sentenced and jailed for 24 years and three months for sexually abusing aspiring young players,
With 45 counts of indecent assault against 23 victims.

Sentencing Higgins, 66, at Winchester Crown Court, Judge Peter Crabtree said he was ‘predatory, cunning and manipulative’ and used sexualised behaviour to ‘normalise’ the abuse he carried out over a 25-year period.

At the age of 66, I guess the only way he will be getting out of jail is in a coffin.

Let’s hope this gives more victims of historical child sexual abuse the confidence to come forward.

12/6/2019


 

Higgins was accused of 51 counts of indecent assault against 24 complainants between 1971 and 1996, which he denied.

Complaints about Higgins were first made 30 years ago, but even though the police and football authorities knew of the serious concerns about him, he continued to work in the game until the Guardian exposed widespread football abuse in 2016.

Many of the victims described Higgins as God-like, their mentor and their father figure showing the influence he held over them.

Several spoke of their inability to make a complaint against him because they feared it would be the end of their burgeoning football career.

The court heard that Higgins was acquitted at a trial held in the early 1990s of a series of indecent assaults including against former-pro Dean Radford who waived his right to anonymity to give evidence as a witness in the current trial.

The senior investigating officer,            DCI Dave Brown, of Hampshire police, said:

“Higgins was a great coach. The boys would do anything for him and he exploited that position. He identified vulnerabilities of the boys he coached and used his position to groom them so he could fulfil his own sexual needs. Boys worshipped Higgins as a father figure. He was clever and manipulative, a typical predatory paedophile.”

He was asked why Higgins had been able to carry on working with children after complaints were made, he said:

“You have to look at what the DBS [disclosure and barring service] and checking processes were at that time. There are very different safeguarding processes now.

Higgins is the latest in a string of high-profile prosecutions of former football coaches with 64-year-old Barry Bennell being jailed in February 2018 for 30 years for sexual offences against junior players at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra.

George Ormond, 62, who worked for Newcastle United’s youth team was given a 20-year prison sentence at Newcastle Crown Court in July 2018 for sex abuse offences spanning 25 years.

Former Celtic youth coach James McCafferty, 77, of Lisburn, Northern Ireland was jailed for six years and nine months at the High Court in Edinburgh on May 14 for 11 charges against 10 victims.

And Michael ‘Kit’ Carson, who worked at Norwich City, Peterborough United and Cambridge United, died in a car crash on the first day of his trial at Peterborough Crown Court where he denied 13 charges

Several spoke of their inability to make a complaint against him because they feared it would be the end of their burgeoning football career.

Claire Booth, of the specialist rape and sexual offences (Raso) unit of the Wessex Crown Prosecution Service, said Higgins gained the trust of the young players and their families to enable his offending.

She added: “It’s been a huge step for some of these victims, some victims have been able to talk to family members over the years and they have had that support but some victims felt unable to talk to anybody and the first time they spoke of Mr Higgins’ abuse was to the police during this investigation.”

The trial heard victim after victim speak of the abuse carried out by Higgins in similar situations – during post-exercise soapy massages, in his car while he played love songs on the stereo and at his home where he cuddled with the boys on his sofa.

Police believe there may be more victims who have not contacted them. They are still keen to hear from anyone else who was indecently assaulted by Higgins.


 HOW CAN WE SAFEGUARD OUR OWN KIDS?

The cases involving Higgins and Bennell are high profile cases within professional football, but most of us who are parents have kids who play in football team’s or go to out-of-school clubs and although the majority of people who give up their spare time are decent good people its also a role that gives any potential paedophiles access to children and abuse their position of power,

These peadophiles are extremely calculated and not only groom the kids but the families as well to ultimately gain their trust, yes there are DBS checks in place but this obviously does not highlight peadophiles who have never been caught before,

So what are the things we can do to minimize the threat of this happening and what are the signs to look out for?

Many of the warning signs of child sexual exploitation reveal themselves in the child’s day-to-day routine.

Examples of behavioural warning signs to look out for are:

  • Defensiveness or aggressiveness.
  • Secretiveness.
  • Depression, anxiety or being overly tearful.
  • Attention seeking.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Difficulty concentrating at school.
  • Not wanting to do the things they once really enjoyed, like playing football and whatever activity they once loved being a part of.

None of us want to broach the subject with our children about the evils that live amongst us but education is key, so make it clear to your kids that they can tell you anything if something doesn’t feel right and that they should never be pressured into something they don’t want to do.

We can only hope that with all these scumbags being brought to justice and it being highlighted gives others the courage to come forward and also raise awareness of the way these sick bastards work.

• The NSPCC offers support to children on 0800 1111, and to footballers who have been abused on 0800 023 2642. The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac) offers support for adult survivors on 0808 801 0331.