Bob Higgins "Predatory Paedophile" Football Coach Found Guilty Of 45 Indecent Assault Charges
23 May 2019, 15:07 | Updated: 23 May 2019, 17:19
Predatory paedophile football coach Bob Higgins has been found guilty at of 45 charges of indecent assault against 23 teenage boys.
Ex-football coach Bob Higgins, who was known as the "star-maker," used "typical grooming behaviour" targeting vulnerable victims, according to the senior prosecutor responsible for bringing the case to court.
The jury at Bournemouth Crown Court found Higgins guilty of the offences, which occurred over a 25-year period.
Higgins ran the youth training programs at Southampton and Peterborough Football Clubs.
The defendant showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out and he was convicted of offences against 23 victims. He was previously convicted at an earlier trial of an offence against one other victim.
He was cleared of five counts of indecent assault and the jury could not reach a verdict on a final charge.
Higgins will be sentenced at a later date at Winchester Crown Court.
Prosecutor Claire Booth said Higgins gained the trust of the young players and their families to enable his offending.
She said: "Mr Higgins was regarded by many as a star-maker, he was a very successful football coach and he was very popular.
"He, we say, would target vulnerable victims or those he perceived to be vulnerable, he gained their trust, he gained the trust of their family members, he was very much liked by the victims and their families, they trusted him with their careers and they really felt that he held their future in his hands.
"He was able to use that power to manipulate these victims into behaving in certain ways to satisfy his own needs."
Ms Booth revealed the only reason Higgins was not charged with grooming was that the offence did not exist at the time of the offences.
She said: "As we have heard from a number of victims and witnesses in this case, Mr Higgins' behaviour would today probably be considered as grooming behaviour, he was a predatory paedophile who manipulated a number of boys.
"We had a large number of victims who were able to give us background information about Mr Higgins and his behaviour."
"These offences are non-recent and the grooming offences only came into force in 2004 so Mr Higgins could only be charged under the legislation that was in force at the time he committed the offences."
Ms Booth said the abuse carried out by Higgins had a long-term impact on the victims.