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  1. ITV Report

Paedophile football coach Bob Higgins guilty of sex attacks against teenage boys

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Paul Davies

Paedophile football coach Bob Higgins has been found guilty of 45 charges of indecent assault against 23 teenage boys.

The 66-year-old was found guilty following a retrial at Bournemouth Crown Court, which heard of his campaign of abuse on players over a 25 year period.

Higgins ran youth training programmes at Southampton and Peterborough Football Clubs, while also spending time as the Maltese national youth coach.

While a coach, Higgins abused his "position of power" he had over careers for his own sexual pleasure, the court heard.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook of Bob Higgins watching a witness interview. Credit: PA

He was accused of groping them during post-exercise soapy massages, played love songs on the stereo while in his car with the boys and cuddled with the players on the sofa at his home.

Victim after victim testified against Higgins during the trial, detailing similar incidents as one another.

Victims described Higgins as a God-like, their mentor and a father figure. A number said they felt unable to complain about him as it would signal the end of their football careers.

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.

Police interview with Bob Higgins Credit: Hampshire Constabulary/PA

The public gallery was charged with emotion as the chairman of the jury announced that Higgins was guilty of six charges in relation to former Southampton trainee Billy Seymour who died in a car crash earlier this year.

Mr Seymour spoke to ITV News in 2018 and explained what happened to him one night while staying at Higgins' house.

"He called me into his room and said get into bed with him.

"I knew this was wrong, what was happening, and I just darted out.

"I just jumped out the bed and ran, grabbed some tracksuit bottoms, I was bare chested, bare foot and I just ran," he said.

Higgins, who was also convicted of a further count of indecent assault at the original trial from last year, showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.

The defendant, of Southampton, was remanded in custody to be sentenced on a later date at Winchester Crown Court.

He was cleared of five counts of indecent assault. A jury was unable to reach a verdict on a final charge.

Former football coach Barry Bennell

Higgins is the latest in a string of high-profile football coaches to be convicted of sexual offences on minors, following Barry Bennell who was jailed for 30 years in February last year for sexual offences against junior players at Manchester City and Crewe Alexandra.

Former Newcastle United youth coach George Ormond, 62, was jailed for 20 years for sex abuse offences over a 25 year period.

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.