Football coach who groomed sporty teenagers is jailed for nine years

Football coach Robert Ellis used his victims' love of football to groom them. Credit: Essex Police.

A football coach from Essex has been jailed for nine years for grooming and sexual activity with teenage boys.

Robert Ellis, 50, used his victims' love of football to engage with them and offered them gifts and trips so he could meet with them.

He met one of his 15-year-old victims online in April 2015 and continued to contact him for around nine months.

Ellis invited him to football matches, claimed to have talent spotted goalkeepers and offered to coach the teenager, who was from Lincolnshire.

The pair first met in a park in July 2015 where they played football and went for a meal. The boy's mother reported Ellis to police and banned her son from contacting him again.

But the contact began again in the December and arranged to meet. Ellis was arrested in January last year before the meeting took place.

It was while investigating the civil servant, from Church End in Harlow, that officers heard from another victim who claimed to have been in a sexual relationship with Ellis when he was 15.

Even while he was on police bail, Ellis met a 14-year-old boy and engaged in sexual touching.

Following a trial, the football coach - who had been banned from taking part in FA-related activity involving under 18s since 2013 - was found guilty of 10 charges including sexual activity with a boy aged under 15.

He was sentenced today (Friday April 7) to nine years in jail and will be on the sex offenders' register for life.